When Being Stuck in Your Career Has Implications Beyond Your Career: Spillover and Crossover Effects of Career Plateaus
Many employees experience a career plateau (CP) with potentially negative consequences. Previous research has established the effects of CPs on well-being, whereas the potential boundary conditions of these effects and the resulting crossover effects for life partners have been largely neglected. Therefore, based on the conservation of resources and social exchange theories, the negative effects of hierarchical and content CPs on well-being and whether these effects are moderated by the importance attributed to success at work were investigated. Based on the spillover–crossover model, we also tested whether CPs are indirectly linked to a lower well-being of the life partner sequentially through the reduced well-being of the focal employee and reduced social support provided to the life partner by the focal employee. We tested our hypotheses based on data spanning seven years, with a large representative sample of 2,489 employees and their life partners (480 dyads). The results indicated that a content, though not a hierarchical, CP is associated with lower employee well-being, irrespective of work success importance. Furthermore, a content CP was found to be indirectly associated with lower well-being of the life partner one year later. Our results underline the importance of considering the broader effects of CPs on the well-being of employees and their life partners.