British Columbia

Is your job hurting your family life?

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman says sometimes people take their work home with them — and it can be tough on families.

A stressful workplace can often bleed into the household, says Jennifer Newman

Its important to support family members who are going through stressful times at work. (Getty Images)

Many people are guilty of taking their work home with them.

Venting about a frustrating co-worker to your significant other is commonplace, and it can even be therapeutic. But according to workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman, too much of it can take a toll on your family life.

She joined Rick Cluff on CBC's The Early Edition to talk about how work can have an adverse affect at home — and how families can work together to solve it.

Rick Cluff: Can families really suffer because of a loved-one's job?

Jennifer Newman: If a worker is stressed at work, it comes home with them.

I worked with a father who was having trouble with his boss. When he went home he was preoccupied and irritable.
His wife found him negative and grumpy during the week — but relaxed on his days off.

Workers will spend time ruminating about problems at work. They don't leave it behind, and the family hears about it.

What's going on, why can't workers shut things off when they get home?

That's a bit of a myth. Workers don't shut-off  work when they're at home.

And, it's not only because of technology. Happy workers tend to have better family lives. There's a relationship between being engaged at work and family satisfaction. And, they have better work-life balance too.

That's because being engaged at work and at home makes workers feel effective in all their roles.
And, the converse is also true — being disengaged, drained and unfulfilled at work has a negative effect on families.

What can workers and their families do if someone's job is dragging everyone down?

Sit down together as a family — don't let your loved one do it alone.

They may want to isolate themselves. Don't let them.

Be willing to listen to the endless stories that seem to repeat themselves. Pull together and create a plan. Find ways to simplify home life — this is not a time to take on more obligations.

Make sure chores and household duties are not adding to the feelings of being overwhelmed. Divide the duties, get them off the stressed worker's shoulders. This is especially true for women undergoing stress at work.

Troubleshoot responses to whatever's going on.

It may mean devising an exit plan or figuring out who to talk to at the company — or what to say to the boss.

Plan down time, get exercise as a family. Families may seem to fight more during this time because members feel powerless to help. They may take it out on their upset loved one.

Consider using your Employee Assistance Program or seeing a marriage and family psychologist.

This interview has been edited and condensed

With files from CBC's The Early Edition