The detrimental effects of financial worry on customer-directed counterproductive performance

Activiteit: Talk or presentation at a conference


Research goals Chances are that we all experience financial worries at some point during our careers. Financial worries can stem from a great number of causes, for example, unexpected expenses, getting a divorce, and illness. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated job loss have further spotlighted the topic of financial worry. The emotional and psychological consequences of financial worry are well documented (e.g., Meuris & Leana, 2015; Netemeyer et al., 2017), but there is a dearth of research on its organizational consequences (but see Meuris & Leana, 2018). Moreover, research has ignored the possibility that financial worry fluctuates over time. A negative event, such as unexpected expenses, can cause financial worry even among people who generally only have low levels of financial worry, and once these expenses disappear their financial worries will simmer away. This study addresses both knowledge gaps. We investigate the extent to which financial worry fluctuates over time, and to what extent within-person variations in financial worry associate with within-person variations in counterproductive performance among front-line service personnel. Due to the nature of service-related jobs, employees are more likely to direct their counterproductive performance towards customers (Hunter & Penney, 2014). Accordingly, we focus on customer-directed counterproductive performance, which includes behaviors such as insulting a customer or making them wait longer than necessary. Theoretical Background Building on the stressor-emotion model of counterproductive performance (Fox et al., 2001), we argue that the experience of financial worry leads to increased levels of experienced negative affect and increased customer-directed counterproductive performance. The stressor-emotion model predicts what happens to individuals when they experience stress and is therefore suited for developing hypotheses about the within-person associations between financial worry and counterproductive performance. One of the predictions is that stressors cause individuals to experience negative affect which in turn triggers negative behavior. Accordingly, we hypothesize negative affect to mediate the within-person association between financial worry and customer-directed counterproductive performance. Another prediction that follows from the model is that control mitigates the impact of stressors on negative emotions (Zhang et al., 2019). Hence, we test whether the strength of the within-person association between financial worry and negative affect depends on individuals’ personal involvement with money. The latter entails activities such as controlling and budgeting one’s finances and is a stable individual difference variable. Finally, we propose a conditional indirect effect, in that the within-person indirect association is moderated by personal involvement with money. Methodology We conducted a weekly diary study among 129 employees in front-line service jobs. Participants completed a questionnaire assessing their personal involvement with money. One week later, participants received the first of five weekly diary surveys measuring weekly financial worry, customer-directed counterproductive performance, and negative affect. Each participant provided data at the person level (Level 2) (i.e. personal involvement with money) and at the week level (Level 1) (i.e., customer-directed counterproductive performance, financial worry, negative affect). Results Financial worry was positively related to negative affect (b = 0.14; 95% CI [0.04, 0.25]) but not to customer-directed counterproductive performance. We found a cross-level interaction between financial worry and personal involvement with money: the positive Level-1 relationship between financial worry and negative affect was moderated by Level-2 personal involvement with money (b = -0.08; 95% CI [-0.16, -0.01]). Financial worry was only related to negative affect for employees with low (b = 0.24, p < .001) and average levels of personal involvement (b = 0.14, p < .05) (Figure 1). Results further showed that negative affect was positively related to customer-directed counterproductive performance (b = 0.07, 95% CI [0.00, 0.13]). Unexpectedly, negative affect did not mediate the relationship between financial worry and customer-directed counterproductive performance. Limitations Since all data was gathered through self-reports the results should be interpreted with caution. Implications This study provides evidence for the stressor-emotion model of counterproductive performance in the context of financial worries and shows that worrying about one’s financial situation elicits negative affect, especially among employees who are generally less involved with money issues. Organizations could develop interventions (e.g., budgeting courses) to teach employees to be more involved with their personal finances, enabling them to cope with their worries more efficiently and refrain from working out their frustrations on customers. Originality To our knowledge, no other study investigated the consequences of financial worry on customer-directed counterproductive performance. From the study we learn that financial worry-induced negative affect can be effectively managed by actively taking control over one’s finances. Finally, this study is a first attempt to investigate the within-person variability of financial worry. Keywords Financial worry, customer-oriented counterproductive performance, multilevel References Fox, S., Spector, P. E., & Miles, D. (2001). Counterproductive work behavior (CWB) in response to job stressors and organizational justice: Some mediator and moderator tests for autonomy and emotions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 59(3), 291–309. Hunter, E. M., & Penney, L. M. (2014). The waiter spit in my soup! Antecedents of customer-directed counterproductive work behavior. Human Performance, 27(3), 262–281. Meuris, J., & Leana, C. (2018). The price of financial precarity: Organizational costs of employees’ financial concerns. Organization Science, 29(3), 398–417. Meuris, J., & Leana, C. R. (2015). The high cost of low wages: Economic scarcity effects in organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior, 35, 143–158. Netemeyer, R. G., Warmath, D., Fernandes, D., & Lynch, J. G. (2017). How am I doing? Perceived financial well-being, its potential antecedents, and its relation to overall well-being. Journal of Consumer Research, 45(1), 68–89. Zhang, Y., Crant, J. M., & Weng, Q. (2019). Role stressors and counterproductive work behavior: The role of negative affect and proactive personality. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 27(3), 267–279.
Periode13 jan 2022
EvenementstitelEuropean Association of Work and Organizational Psychology: Conference 2022
LocatieGlasgow, United Kingdom
Mate van erkenningInternational