When you bring work at home or home issues at work, you are headed for disaster. Not only your relationships and performance will suffer, but you are exposing yourself to a risk of burnout which is damaging to your health.
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Burnout is a major stress-related health problem, especially in women. A work-home mix-up may be a significant contributor to the risk of burnout.
Researchers from American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM)evaluated the relationship between work-home interference and burnout risk in a study of nearly 4,500 Swedish twins. Twin studies provide unique information on familial factors — genetics and early life experiences — affecting health and illness.
The study looked at two types of work-home interference: work-home conflict, when work demands interfere with home life; and home-work conflict, when private life interferes with work roles. Burnout was defined as depression, emotional exhaustion, and feeling run down.
Women perceived more burnout than men, and also felt slightly more work-home conflict (work demands interfering with work life). Home-work conflict (home demands interfering with work roles) was similar between the sexes.
Both types of work-home interference were related to burnout. On comparisons of twin pairs, genetic factors contributed to the association between home-work conflict and burnout in women. The study also found a “rather direct” association between work-home conflict and burnout, unaffected by age, education, job demands, or children living at home.
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For employers, taking steps to reduce interference of work demands on private life may help to reduce burnout and other stress-related health problems. It is also important for the employees themselves to develop self-regulation strategies to counter negative spillover of work at home, such as not working from home. This may be especially important for women, because they perceive more work-home conflict than men.