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Feeling Exhausted? Let’s Play – How Play in Work Relates to Experienced Burnout and Innovation Behaviors

Abstract

Play in work, as one specific type of work designs, is regarded as the possible solution to experienced burnout and could bring the desirable outcomes to organizations. Drawing on Affective Events Theory (AET), we argued that workplace events (such as play) cause emotional reactions on the part of employees (i.e., burnout), which in turn influence workplace attitudes and behaviors (i.e., innovation behaviors). A total of 439 employees completed surveys, and the results showed that play in work positively relates to innovation behaviors. We also examined individual’s attitude toward workplace fun to further understand the impact of individual differences on the relationship between play in work and their feelings and subsequent behaviors. We found that the positive attitude toward fun moderated the indirect relationship between play in work and innovation behaviors via experienced burnout. Based on AET, our results showed that play in work could reduce employees’ experienced burnout which in turn lead to their innovation behaviors. Such an effect of play in work are stronger when an individual has more positive attitude toward fun at work. Practically, it is suggested that play in work would contribute to favorable outcomes in the workplace, but managers should pay attention to individual differences in attitude toward workplace fun to ensure the maximum benefit of play.

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Appendix

Appendix

Items of Play-in-Work Measurement

  • Factor 1: Play as a Game.

My work is like a game.

My work is like a sport.

My work is like a puzzle.

My work is like play.

  • Factor 2: Play as Goofing Around.

I fool around at work.

I play around at work.

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Lee, A.YP., Wang, YH. & Yang, FR. Feeling Exhausted? Let’s Play – How Play in Work Relates to Experienced Burnout and Innovation Behaviors. Applied Research Quality Life 16, 629–648 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-019-09794-1

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Keywords

  • Play in work
  • Experienced burnout
  • Attitude toward workplace fun
  • Innovation behaviors
  • Affective events theory (AET)