ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2024, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (8): 1366-1378.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2024.01366

• Regular Articles • Previous Articles    

The spillover effects of financial stress in the workplace

CHEN Huan, WANG Zhen, JIANG Fubin   

  1. Business School, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing 100081, China
  • Received:2024-01-01 Online:2024-08-15 Published:2024-06-05

Abstract: In recent years, financial stress has become the leading source of stress worldwide, significantly affecting both individuals' personal lives and their workplace outcomes. Despite the increasing financial stress faced by individuals and families and the growing scholarly attention to financial stress, there remains a lack of systematic understanding in both academic and practical circles regarding what impact financial stress has on individual workplace outcomes, why these impacts occur, and when these effects manifest. This issue primarily arises from a lack of dialogue between studies, resulting in fragmented knowledge.
To address this issue and inspire both academic research and practical management, this study systematically reviews existing research, identifies different types of financial stress, and summarizes the framework of financial stress spillover effects in the workplace. It comprehensively presents the specific manifestations, mechanisms, and boundary conditions of these effects to answer three questions: "What impact does financial stress have on workplace outcomes?", "Why does financial stress have these impacts?", and "When do these effects occur?" (1) Regarding the specific manifestations, this study identifies that financial stress disrupts work attitudes, career development, and work-family relationships, exerting a dual impact on work behavior and performance. Financial stress is not only a personal challenge but also a significant obstacle to interpersonal interactions, team operations, and organizational climate. (2) Regarding the mechanisms, the study elaborates on three primary mechanisms through which financial stress impacts individuals: resource, cognitive, and motivational mechanisms. Resource mechanisms focus on how financial stress leads to the depletion and subsequent conservation of resources. Cognitive mechanisms examine changes in cognitive appraisal under financial stress and how these changes affect workplace outcomes. Motivational mechanisms investigate adjustments in work motivation when facing financial stress. Additionally, the study highlights unique mechanisms such as uncertainty handling, compensation for lack of control, and emotional social transmission, indicating that financial stress can affect not only the individual but also their colleagues and the broader organizational climate. Research on these interpersonal spillover effects is limited, but the identified mechanisms emphasize different aspects of financial stress's impact, suggesting a wider influence on workplace dynamics. (3) Regarding the boundary conditions, the strength of financial stress spillover effects is influenced by various conditions such as employee characteristics, job features, and macro-contextual factors. This study underscores the need to explore key factors such as leadership and organizational context that can mitigate the negative effects of financial stress or even transform stress into motivation.
This study has significant theoretical and practical implications. Theoretically, this research helps uncover the complex processes of workplace psychology and behavior, enabling researchers to gain a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the current state of research on the workplace impacts of financial stress. It provides a foundation for developing more targeted and effective interventions to manage financial stress in the workplace. Practically, it assists stakeholders in developing support systems to enhance employees' work experiences and quality of life, promoting workplace stability and social development. Future research should focus on clarifying the differences in spillover effects of various types of financial stress, diversifying the subjects and methods of study, exploring the boundary conditions that transform "stress" into "motivation," and conducting research tailored to the Chinese socio-cultural context to advance in-depth exploration in this field and guide management practices. By addressing these areas, future studies can provide deeper insights into the multifaceted impacts of financial stress and inform the development of more effective interventions and support mechanisms within organizations. This holistic approach will not only improve individual well-being but also enhance overall organizational performance and resilience.

Key words: financial stress, spillover effect, workplace outcomes, underlying mechanism, boundary conditions

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