Academic journal article Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health

Systematic Review on the Association between Employee Worktime Control and Work-Non-Work Balance, Health and Well-Being, and Job-Related Outcomes

Academic journal article Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health

Systematic Review on the Association between Employee Worktime Control and Work-Non-Work Balance, Health and Well-Being, and Job-Related Outcomes

Article excerpt

Objectives The aim of this review was to assess systematically the empirical evidence for associations between employee worktime control (WTC) and work-non-work balance, health/well-being, and job-related outcomes (eg, job satisfaction, job performance).

Method A systematic search of empirical studies published between 1995-201 1 resulted in 63 relevant papers from 53 studies. Five different categories of WTC measurements were distinguished (global WTC, multidimensional WTC, flextime, leave control, and "other subdimensions of WTC"). For each WTC category, we examined the strength of evidence for an association with (i) work-non-work balance, (ii) health/well-being, and (iii) job-related outcomes. We distinguished between cross-sectional, longitudinal, and intervention studies. Evidence strength was assessed based on the number of studies and their convergence in terms of study findings.

Results (Moderately) strong cross-sectional evidence was found for positive associations between global WTC and both work-non-work balance and job-related outcomes, whereas no consistent evidence was found regarding health/well-being. Intervention studies on global WTC found moderately strong evidence for a positive causal association with work-non-work balance and no or insufficient evidence for health/well-being and job-related outcomes. Limited to moderately strong cross-sectional evidence was found for positive associations between multidimensional WTC and our outcome categories. Moderately strong cross-sectional evidence was found for positive associations between flextime and all outcome categories. The lack of intervention or longitudinal studies restricts clear causal inferences.

Conclusions This review has shown that there are theoretical and empirical reasons to view WTC as a promising tool for the maintenance of employees' work-non-work balance, health and well-being, and job-related outcomes. At the same time, however, the current state of evidence allows only very limited causal inferences to be made regarding the impact of enhanced WTC.

Key terms job motivation; job performance; stress; work-family conflict; work scheduling; worktime flexibility.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formula omitted.)

During the past decades, organizations increasingly emphasized work-related flexibility in their organizational practices (1). One type of flexibility that has become more common is "temporal flexibility", ie, flexibility regarding working times. Initially, flexible worktime arrangements were mainly implemented for the benefit of the organization (eg, mandatory overtime work and shift-work), but over the years, attention has shifted towards flexible worktime arrangements, such as worktime control (WTC) (2), that may benefit both the organization and its employees. WTC can be defined as "an employee's possibilities of control over the duration, position, and distribution of worktime" (3). WTC comes in many forms. Well-known subdimensions include control over (i) starting and ending times of the workday (ie, flextime), (ii) when to take a break, (iii) when to take vacation or a day off, (iv) the distribution of workdays over the work week, and (v) whether and when to work overtime.

The increasing popularity of WTC can be explained by its assumed positive effects on employee work-nonwork balance, health and well-being, and performance. For instance, self-determination theory (4) and several influential occupational health theories [eg, demandcontrol model (5), job characteristics model (6)] state that job autonomy - of which WTC is a specific subdimension - is a key factor for employee motivation, health, and performance.

At a more fundamental level, we propose two regulatory mechanisms that can explain the hypothesized favorable association between WTC and indicators of health/well-being and performance: a time-regulation mechanism, and a recovery-regulation mechanism. The first mechanism implies that WTC enables workers to align their working times with their responsibilities in private life. …

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