Exhaustion and lack of psychological detachment from work during off-job time: moderator effects of time pressure and leisure experiences

J Occup Health Psychol. 2014 Apr;19(2):206-16. doi: 10.1037/a0035760. Epub 2014 Mar 17.


Lack of psychological detachment from work during off-job time contributes to the increase in employee exhaustion over time. This study examines the reverse causal path from exhaustion to lack of psychological detachment, suggesting that this reverse process may operate within a relatively short time frame. Specifically, we examine if exhaustion predicts a decrease in psychological detachment from work during off-job time within several weeks. We propose that time pressure at work intensifies and that pleasurable leisure experiences reduce this association between exhaustion and the decrease in psychological detachment. We tested our hypotheses in a short-term prospective study (time lag: 4 weeks) with a sample of 109 employees. Ordinary least square regression analysis indicates that exhaustion predicted a decrease in psychological detachment from work over the course of 4 weeks. This decrease was particularly strong for employees working under time pressure and for employees who did not engage in pleasurable leisure experiences. Our findings suggest that exhausted employees find detachment from work increasingly difficult and therefore might suffer from insufficient recovery-although they need it most. The situation is particularly severe when exhausted employees face high time pressure and a lack of pleasurable leisure experiences.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mental Fatigue*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Work / psychology*