The Mediating Role of Work-Leisure Conflict on Job Stress and Retention of It Professionals

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

During the past two decades, information technology (IT) function has experienced a rapid growth in most organizations due to the intense competition in the field, which has led more demanding and complex roles for knowledge workers (Huarng, 2001; Fox, 2002; Maudgalya et al, 2006). Various studies (Li & Shani, 1991; Ford, Heinen & Langkamer, 2007; Slattery, Selvarajan & Anderson, 2009) have analyzed the consequences of these changes, and in this paper we attempt to take a deeper look at job stressors and determine how they impact the retention likelihood of IT employees. Other scholars (Judge & Colquitt, 2004; Monsen & Boss, 2009) have pointed out that work-life conflict is a significant factor in employee's decision to leave or retain in an organization. In particular, the importance of work-leisure conflict in terms of the impact of various job stressors on retention is another crucial area that this research addresses.

Through a survey of IT professionals in two large centers of a global bank, we collected 575 responses to test our model. Findings followed by discussions and practical implications are also presented.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND HYPOTHESES

To study the impact of work-leisure conflict on the relationship between job stress and retention, we propose the following theoretical framework (see Figure 1) with five interrelated components.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Work-life conflict reflects "how work spills over into family time" (Russell, O'Connell & McGinnity, 2009). Work spillover into personal life of employees can manifest itself in several ways such as: amount of time spent at work and away from home (Piotrkowski, 1979); mental preoccupation and absorption at work that impacts life outside work (Kanter, 1977); and, physical challenge of work can fatigue an employee and drain the energy needed for carry out and non-work activities--he or she becomes too tired to effectively engage in personal activities and relationships (Crouter et. al., 1983).

As an important part of nonwork variables, leisure is defined as "a period of time free from paid work or other obligatory activities" (Parker, 1971). Following this definition, leisure is perceived as "opposite" and "neutral" (unrelated) to work practices (Parker, 1971; Parker, 1983). Leisure can potentially compensate for negative experience or insufficient positive outcomes associated with paid work (Pearson, 2008). On the contrary, work-leisure conflict is negatively related to job satisfaction (Ford, Heinen & Langkamer, 2007), organizational commitment (Siegel et al., 2005), retention (Monsen & Boss, 2009) and life quality (Rice, Frone & McFarlin, 1992). Based on these negative spillover effects, we hypothesize that:

H1: Work-leisure conflict is negatively related to retention.

Job stress in general has negative consequences on job outcomes for the employees and organizations, and it typically leads to higher intention to quit and increased employee turnover (Netemeyer, Burton, & Johnston, 1995). Following the literature (Netemeyer, Burton & Johnston, 1995; Gilboa et al., 2008; Monsen & Boss, 2009), we break down job stress into three main components: role ambiguity, role conflict and role overload. and specifically test their relationship to retention as well as how work-leisure conflict may play a mediating role this relationship.

Role ambiguity is the degree to which clear information is lacking. Specifically, IT professionals may deal with unclear expectations from users and changes under uncertain authority (Li & Shani, 1991). According to Ashforth and Saks (1996), role ambiguity is positively correlated with intention to quit. Similarly, Rafferty and Griffin (2006) argued that uncertainty at work in general was associated with intention to quit. When roles are not well defined, typical reaction of employees is negative leading to withdrawal which can eventually lead to employee leaving the organization (Harris & Mossholder, 1996). …