Authors, Title and Publication
Wright, K. B., Abendschein, B., Wombacher, K., O’Connor, M., Hoffman, M., Dempsey, M., & Shelton, A. (2014). Work-related communication technology use outside of regular work hours and work life conflict: The influence of communication technologies on perceived work life conflict, burnout, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions. Management Communication Quarterly, 28(4), 507-530.
The advent of communication technologies has led to profound changes in the workplace. As employees begin to use communication technologies for work-related tasks more frequently during their free time, this may contribute to an increase in work life conflict as well as related outcomes, such as job satisfaction, stress, and burnout. This study investigated employee perceptions of the influence of communication technology use outside of regular work hours on perceptions of work life conflict, burnout, turnover intentions, and job satisfaction. An online survey of 168 employees from more than 30 companies in a Midwestern city in the U.S. was conducted to assess relationships among these variables.
The results showed that hours of work-related communication technology use outside of regular work hours contributed to perceptions of work life conflict. As with other work duties carried over into home life, communication technologies (despite their convenience) may blur the boundaries between work and home. However, positive attitudes toward communication technologies predicted decreased work life conflict. Some employees perceive communication technology as a convenient means of connecting with work, while in the home environment. Thus, organizations and managers should not only consider how often employees are working outside of regular work hours but also their perceptions of the usefulness of these technologies. Controlling for worker age, perceived life stress, and attitudes toward communication technologies, work life conflict was found to predict job burnout and job satisfaction, but not turnover intentions.
Implications for Practice
Organizations should 1) develop clear policies that help employees maintain a healthier balance between work and private life roles, or develop informal guidelines that discourage work-related communication technology use outside of traditional work hours; 2) facilitate supportive relationships for employees, including mentoring relationships and ongoing support groups in the organization; and 3) develop training programs to prepare workers for the potential work distractions they may experience in their free time, or support a forum for employees to share helpful suggestions for coping with work-related interruptions during their free time.
Location of Article
The article is available online at: http://mcq.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/05/13/0893318914533332 (abstract free, purchase full article)