Life Spillovers: The Spillover of Fear of Home Foreclosure to the Workplace


  • We are grateful to our Action Editor Maria Kramer and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive feedback. An earlier version of this study was presented at the 2010 Academy of Management Meeting in Montreal Canada and received the Careers Division Best Overall Paper Award. This study was funded by a SHRM Foundation research grant and the Lubar School of Business Roger L. Fitzsimonds Distinguished Scholar Award.


Work–life research has focused on the spillover of family experiences to the workplace but has neglected other life experiences that may also be brought to work. Addressing this shortcoming, we present a conceptual framework for the study of life spillovers. We offer the idea that life experiences can include shocks and that the fear associated with nonwork shocks can spill over to the workplace. The national shock of the collapse of the U.S. financial and housing markets in 2008 offered an opportunity to test these ideas and build an empirical foundation for the study of life spillovers. Using a sample of 2,135 organizationally employed homeowners, we examined the spillover of fear of home foreclosure to the workplace. In support of our moderated mediation model, employees with greater fear of losing their homes to foreclosure reported more physical stress-related symptoms at work, and their acknowledgment of home-to-work spillover fully mediated this relationship. Fear of foreclosure also directly predicted job search behaviors and negatively affected employees’ organizational commitment and turnover intentions through multiple mediators involving home-to-work spillover and stress. Resources and demands from the home and, to a lesser extent, work domains amplified the spillover of fear of foreclosure to the workplace. Taken together, these findings support widening the work–life lens to include a broader array of nonwork experiences. Practical implications are presented as well as new directions for future research using the life spillover framework.