We all look forward to the weekend after a long week at work. Here’s another reason to look forward to it: Research finds that it’s important to emotionally recover from stressful work demands. One previous study found that mentally detaching from work, relaxing, and engaging in non job-related tasks during the weekend helps employees feel recovered during the following work week. This leads to better self-reported job performance and citizenship behaviors (going the extra mile), as well as increased initiative to complete work tasks. These are positive outcomes for organizations, but when it comes to employees, there are more specific emotional benefits to consider.
THE RESEARCH STUDY
The current study (Fritz et al., 2010) examined the effect of several types of weekend recovery experiences on both positive and negative feelings. Relaxation during the weekend increased positive feelings (joviality, serenity, self-assurance) and decreased negative feelings (fear, hostility, sadness) by the end of the weekend. Engaging in mastery experiences (activities that promote challenge and provide opportunities to learn new skills) during the weekend was related to increased positive feelings (joviality, serenity, self-assurance). Finally, psychological detachment (mentally distancing oneself from work) was also related to increased positive feelings (only joviality and serenity) by the end of the weekend.
However, the weekend isn’t always full of positive recovery experiences. The authors also examined the impact of non-work hassles (e.g., accumulated housework, conflicts with the family) that can occur during the weekend. These negative non-work experiences increased negative feelings (sadness, hostility, fear, fatigue) by the end of the weekend.
The effects of weekend recovery experiences and non-work hassles were strongest by the end of the weekend but seemed to “fade out” through the following work week. This underscores the importance of the weekend for recovery experiences, as this is an important time to rejuvenate before going into a new week of work demands.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Organizations might consider this research to encourage employees to engage in activities that promote relaxation and mastery experiences such as reading a book, going for a walk, or learning a new hobby during their off-time.
Fritz, C., Sonnentag, S., Spector, P. E. and McInroe, J. A. (2010), The weekend matters: Relationships between stress recovery and affective experiences. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31: 1137–1162.
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