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Workplace Telepressure and Worker Well-Being: The Intervening Role of Psychological Detachment

Abstract

Workplace telepressure—an employee’s preoccupation and urge to respond quickly to work-related messages via information and communication technologies (ICTs)—may be associated with negative well-being outcomes for workers. The present study expands upon past work on ICT-related stressors and worker well-being with an examination of the presumed role of lower psychological detachment from work in the relationships between workplace telepressure and negative worker outcomes. A three-wave web-based survey with 234 employed adults confirmed between-person associations between workplace telepressure and lower psychological detachment from work, higher levels of exhaustion (physical and cognitive), and more sleep problems. Moreover, results supported the predicted indirect effect of workplace telepressure to physical exhaustion and sleep problems through psychological detachment at the between-person level. Results also showed a negative indirect effect of workplace telepressure through psychological detachment on within-person variation in work engagement, despite the positive bivariate association between workplace telepressure and engagement (absorption). Finally, exploratory analyses suggested that workplace telepressure might be a stronger predictor of exhaustion when ICT connection demands at work are low. We discuss implications for workplace telepressure in terms of both health impairment and motivational processes with respect to work recovery.

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Notes

  1. We explored whether detachment might serve as a moderator rather than mediator for the engagement outcomes based on alternative propositions of the stressor-detachment model (Sonnentag and Fritz 2015). Results from traditional multilevel model analysis showed a significant interaction only for work engagement as dedication; b = 0.10, SE = .04, p = .03). The simple slope for telepressure on engagement at the average level of psychological detachment was near zero (b = 0.06, SE = .08, p = .48). At low levels of detachment (1.75 SD below the mean), telepressure did not predict dedication, b = 0.06, SE = .11, p = .33. However, at very high levels of detachment (1.75 SD above the mean), more telepressure did predict more dedication, b = 0.22, SE = .11, p = .04. Note that telepressure did not predict absorption at lower levels of detachment (e.g., 1 SD and 1.5 SD above the mean). The results suggest that dedication increases with higher levels of telepressure only when high levels of psychological detachment are also present.

  2. None of the interaction effects on burnout variables were mediated by psychological detachment (ps > .09).

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Acknowledgements

The project was supported by a Research and Artistry grant awarded to the authors by Northern Illinois University. The authors are grateful to Sarah Bailey for her assistance with data collection and data management for this project.

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Correspondence to Alecia M. Santuzzi.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Santuzzi, A.M., Barber, L.K. Workplace Telepressure and Worker Well-Being: The Intervening Role of Psychological Detachment. Occup Health Sci 2, 337–363 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41542-018-0022-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41542-018-0022-8

Keywords

  • Telepressure
  • Psychological detachment
  • Work recovery
  • Technology
  • Employee well-being