Underemployment & nonwork outcomes
Maher, Charleen Patricia
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The study of underemployment and its predictors, correlates, and outcomes has only recently gained momentum, with most researchers focusing on predictors and work-related implications of being underemployed. Underemployment is examined in the form of several indicators, including overqualification, job field underemployment, hours underemployment and pay underemployment. The present study explores the effect of underemployment on nonwork-related outcomes such as work to nonwork conflict and relationships with friends. We examine the role of relative deprivation as a mediator in the relationship between underemployment and nonwork outcomes. Finally, we explore the effect of occupational values, commitment and social support on nonwork outcomes. Findings show that job field underemployment was negatively related to relative deprivation, suggesting that the comparison being made might be too different to be meaningful and perhaps less likely to be perceived as unfair. Relative deprivation mediated the relationship between overqualification and strain-based work to nonwork conflict; however, an inconsistent mediation was found in which the direct negative effect of overqualification on conflict canceled out the indirect effect through relative deprivation, leading to a nonsignificant total effect. Relative deprivation mediated the relationship between hours underemployment and strain-based work to nonwork conflict, suggesting that individuals who are involuntarily working less hours may resent the lack of resources and opportunities at work, and thus, may be more likely to report increased strain outside the work environment. Occupational role commitment moderated the relationship between pay underemployment and relative deprivation, such that the positive relationship was stronger among individuals who reported more commitment. Thus, individuals who are committed to their occupation may be more sensitive to lower pay and report more resentment. It may be appealing for organizations to hire underemployed workers, but they need to consider how to best keep them from feeling relative deprivation, maintain high levels of engagement and performance, and find meaning and value in their work, regardless of underemployment status. Research and theoretical implications related to underemployment, relative deprivation theory, and work-family literature are discussed.