Should you think about work during your off time? If so, how much?

The authors of this study examined the relation between job demands and psychological detachment from work during off-job time (i.e., mentally switching off) with psychological well-being and work engagement. They hypothesized that high job demands and low levels of psychological detachment predict poor well-being and low work engagement. They proposed that psychological detachment buffers the negative impact of high job demands on well-being and work engagement. A longitudinal study (12-month time lag) with 309 human service employees showed that high job demands predicted emotional exhaustion, psychosomatic complaints, and low work engagement over time. Psychological detachment from work during off-job time predicted emotional exhaustion and buffered the relation between job demands and an increase in psychosomatic complaints and between job demands and a decrease in work engagement. The findings of this study suggest that psychological detachment from work during off-job time is an important factor that helps to protect employee well-being and work engagement.

Source: “Staying well and engaged when demands are high: the role of psychological detachment.” from Journal of Applied Psychology


Mentally distancing oneself from work during nonwork time can help restore resources lost because of work demands. In this study, we examined possible outcomes of such psychological detachment from work, specifically well-being and job performance. Although employees may need to mentally detach from work to restore their well-being, high levels of detachment may require a longer time to get back into “working mode,” which may be negatively associated with job performance. Our results indicate that higher levels of self-reported detachment were associated with higher levels of significant other-reported life satisfaction as well as lower levels of emotional exhaustion. In addition, we found curvilinear relationships between psychological detachment and coworker reported job performance (task performance and proactive behavior). Thus, although high psychological detachment may enhance employee well-being, it seems that medium levels of detachment are most beneficial for job performance.

Source: “Happy, healthy, and productive: the role of detachment from work during nonwork time.” from Journal of Applied Psychology

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