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A balanced view of long work hours

A balanced view of long work hours Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to address the theoretical ordering of the associations between work hours, psychological demands, decision latitude, and psychological distress. Design/methodology/approach – A mediation model, predicting that the association between long work hours and psychological distress is mediated by psychological demands and decision latitude, was tested with a representative sample of 7,802 individuals in full‐time paid employment surveyed by a government agency. Structural equation modeling was used and the full mediation model was replicated for subsamples of men and women. The analysis controlled for demographic variables, work characteristics and socioeconomic status. Findings – As expected, decision latitude is associated with less and psychological demands with more psychological distress. Long work hours are associated with more decision latitude and psychological demands. The association between long work hours and psychological distress is mediated by psychological demands and decision latitude. The mediation process was supported in male and female sub‐samples. Research limitations/implications – Considering the weak associations between work hours and psychological strain reported in previous research, the findings of this study support new theorizing about this association. Accordingly, long work hours may be viewed as a distal variable influencing the duration of exposure to psychological demands. The study reported here also underscores the need to further investigate the positive consequences of long work hours within the context of psychological contracts. Originality/value – This is one of the few studies that conceptualize work hours as something other than an occupational risk factor or as a job demand with a direct impact on psychological strain. It thus provides a new basis for thinking about the process through which long work hours may influence psychological strain. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Workplace Health Management Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1753-8351
DOI
10.1108/17538351211239153
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to address the theoretical ordering of the associations between work hours, psychological demands, decision latitude, and psychological distress. Design/methodology/approach – A mediation model, predicting that the association between long work hours and psychological distress is mediated by psychological demands and decision latitude, was tested with a representative sample of 7,802 individuals in full‐time paid employment surveyed by a government agency. Structural equation modeling was used and the full mediation model was replicated for subsamples of men and women. The analysis controlled for demographic variables, work characteristics and socioeconomic status. Findings – As expected, decision latitude is associated with less and psychological demands with more psychological distress. Long work hours are associated with more decision latitude and psychological demands. The association between long work hours and psychological distress is mediated by psychological demands and decision latitude. The mediation process was supported in male and female sub‐samples. Research limitations/implications – Considering the weak associations between work hours and psychological strain reported in previous research, the findings of this study support new theorizing about this association. Accordingly, long work hours may be viewed as a distal variable influencing the duration of exposure to psychological demands. The study reported here also underscores the need to further investigate the positive consequences of long work hours within the context of psychological contracts. Originality/value – This is one of the few studies that conceptualize work hours as something other than an occupational risk factor or as a job demand with a direct impact on psychological strain. It thus provides a new basis for thinking about the process through which long work hours may influence psychological strain.

Journal

International Journal of Workplace Health ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 22, 2012

Keywords: Canada; Hours of work; Stress; Psychological contracts; Workplace health management; Psychological demands; Decision latitude; Distress; Mental health

References