Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 607–623

Emotional Exhaustion Among Employees Without Social or Client Contact: The Key Role of Nonstandard Work Schedules


DOI: 10.1007/s10869-009-9153-x

Cite this article as:
Wittmer, J.L.S. & Martin, J.E. J Bus Psychol (2010) 25: 607. doi:10.1007/s10869-009-9153-x



The current study examines emotional exhaustion and its predictors among employees without social or client contact on multiple nonstandard shifts.


Data were obtained through surveys from U.S. Postal Service employees at three mail processing centers (N = 353).


While we hypothesized that the day, evening, and night shift employees would differ significantly on emotional exhaustion, we found that the day and evening shifts differed significantly from the night shift. Hierarchical moderated regressions revealed that shift moderated the relationship between emotional exhaustion and job demands and work–family conflict, but not job resources.


Understanding how working on nonstandard shifts relates to emotional exhaustion aids in our theoretical understanding of the process of emotional exhaustion and the effects of nonstandard work schedules. We provide evidence that the negative consequences associated with nonstandard schedules (role conflict, role ambiguity, unfavorable working conditions, less positive perceptions of supervision, and work–family conflict) differentially predict emotional exhaustion. Management can apply this information to help reduce the impact of these consequences on employees, lessening their likelihood of burnout, lowered performance, and turnover.


Although research has investigated emotional exhaustion in nonstandard shifts, we extend the literature by investigating multiple, nonstandard shifts, as opposed to standard versus nonstandard. While researchers have recognized that emotional exhaustion need not occur only in human service professions, much of the research continues to focus on professions with high customer or interpersonal contact. Therefore, we extend the literature by examining emotional exhaustion in mail processors, a profession with absolutely no customer contact.


Emotional exhaustion Burnout Nonstandard work schedules Shift work Work–family conflict 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, College of Business AdministrationUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management and Information Systems, School of Business AdministrationWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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