Boundaryless working hours and recovery in Germany

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Objective: Due to recent trends such as globalization and digitalization, more and more employees tend to have flexible working time arrangements, including boundaryless working hours. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships of various aspects of boundaryless working hours (overtime, Sunday work, and extended work availability) with employees’ state of recovery. Besides, we examined the mediating and moderating role of recovery experiences (psychological detachment, relaxation, mastery, and control) in these relationships.

Methods: We used data from 8586 employees (48% women; average age of 48 years) who took part in the 2017 BAuA-Working Time Survey, a representative study of the German working population. Regression analyses were conducted to test main effects as well as mediation and moderation.

Results: Overtime work, Sunday work, and extended work availability were negatively related to state of recovery. Psychological detachment mediated these relationships. Furthermore, we found that relaxation and control mediated the association between extended work availability and state of recovery. However, no relevant moderating effects were found.

Conclusions: Altogether, our findings indicate that various aspects of boundaryless working hours pose a risk to employees’ state of recovery and that especially psychological detachment is a potential mechanism in these relationships. In addition, the results suggest that a high level of recovery experiences cannot attenuate these negative relationships in leisure time. Therefore, employers and employees alike should try to avoid or minimize boundaryless working hours.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)275-292
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2022
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Flexible working hours, Overtime, Recovery experiences, Weekend work, Work availability
  • Management studies