Employees Maximize Performance by Playing Hard and Resting Hard

We all know that working hard during the work week is important, but a recent study (Binnewies, Sonnentag, & Mojza, 2010) suggests that playing and resting hard over the weekend also plays an important part in determining employees’ performance at work.

In their study of white collar employees in Germany, the authors explored factors that contribute to employees feeling mentally and physically refreshed after the weekend and how feeling refreshed affects subsequent job performance during the week. The authors suggest that the opportunity to recover over the weekend is vital for restoring employees’ valuable mental and physical resources that get depleted over the course of the work week.


The authors identified three contributors to recovery over the weekend. The first is mentally detaching oneself from work and not thinking about work issues or projects. The second contributor is relaxation. The third is engaging in non-job-related tasks or projects that allow for personal achievement, for example, competitive leisure activities or hobbies. Engaging in these kinds of activities over the weekend helps employees feel refreshed and recovered at the beginning of the following work week, which in turns leads to better self-reported performance at work, more self-reported organizational citizenship behavior, and increased personal initiative to complete work tasks.   


One potential implication of these findings is that employees who continue to mentally focus on work during the weekend in lieu of relaxing and participating in leisure activities may actually be sabotaging themselves for the following work week. However, the researchers do mention that it is possible that recovery during the work week (e.g., in the evenings) may potentially compensate for lack of recovery over the weekend. Nevertheless, their results support what many of us probably agree with; that it is vital for employees to replenish their mental and physical resources in order to perform at a high level.  

Finally, while many organizations already place a heavy focus on work-life balance, it is important for organizations to promote employees’ recovery while not at work. Studies like this remind us that overburdening employees with work during non-work times can backfire. This can occur in terms of reduced productivity as well as a host of other negative individual outcomes (e.g., increased stress and health problems) and negative organizational outcomes (e.g., increased health care costs, absenteeism, and turnover).

Binnewies, C., Sonnentag, S., & Mojza, E.J. (2010). Recovery during the weekend and
fluctuations in weekly job performance: A week-level study examining intra-individual relationships. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83, 419-441.