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The Power of Integrating Work and Home Identities

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Whether you’re an employer or an employee, a focus on bringing your “whole self” to work can impact performance on the job.

According to a recent study by Mahdi Ebrahimi, assistant professor of marketing at Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics, better performance from employees can be expected when corporate leaders put their company’s authentic mission and vision into practice. 

Ebrahimi examines the trend of bringing one’s “whole self” to work in “Juggling work and home selves: Low identity integration feels less authentic and increases unethicality,” published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes and featured in Harvard Business Review.

In his study, Ebrahimi and his coauthors looked at the two major identities in a typical employee’s life – their “professional/work” identity and “non-work” identity. He found that when employees don’t believe that their “whole self” integrates with the culture of their workplace, there is a greater likelihood of unethical workplace behavior. 

“Our research suggests that when employees are given the opportunity to create work identities that are compatible with their home identities, they are more likely to behave ethically. Given that unethical behavior is a pervasive issue in organizations, ethical employees reduce the financial and reputational costs of unethical behavior in organizations,” said Ebrahimi.

“Across multiple experiments and a field study we found that when people juggle identities that are incompatible, they feel less authentic and that ultimately leads to more unethical behavior,” said Ebrahimi.

Read more about the study here.