The impact of customer misbehavior on frontline employees’ work–family conflict and withdrawal behaviors

Xinyuan (Roy) Zhao, Fujin Wang, Anna S. Mattila, Aliana Man Wai Leong, Zhenzhen Cui, Huan Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Customer misbehavior has a negative impact on frontline employees. However, the underlying mechanisms from customer misbehavior to employees’ negative outcomes need to be further unfolded and examined. This study aims to propose that employees’ affective rumination and problem-solving pondering could be the explanatory processes of customer misbehavior influencing employee attitudes in which coworker support could be a moderator. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed-method approach was designed to test this study’s predictions. Study 1 conducted a scenario-based experiment among 215 full-time hospitality employees, and Study 2 used a two-wave, longitudinal survey of 305 participants. Findings: The results demonstrate the impact of customer misbehavior on work–family conflict and withdrawal behaviors. The mediating role of affective rumination is supported and coworker support moderates the processes. Practical implications: Customer misbehavior leads to negative outcomes among frontline employees both at work and family domains. Hotel managers should help frontline employees to cope with customer misbehavior by avoiding negative affective spillover and providing support properly. Originality/value: The studies have unfolded the processes of affective rumination and problem-solving pondering through which customer misbehavior influences work–family conflict and withdrawal behaviors among frontline employees. The surprising findings that coworker support magnified the negative effects have also been discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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