Academic journal article Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health

Worktime Control Access, Need and Use in Relation to Work-Home Interference, Fatigue, and Job Motivation

Academic journal article Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health

Worktime Control Access, Need and Use in Relation to Work-Home Interference, Fatigue, and Job Motivation

Article excerpt

Demanding working hours and irregular shiftwork arrangements that characterize modern work are linked to a range of unfavorable outcomes (1-3). Several studies suggest that employees' control over working hours [ie, worktime control (WTC)] may attenuate such negative effects (4-6). Employees who report relatively high levels of WTC seem better able to regulate their time demands (ie, time regulation) and recovery needs (ie, recovery-regulation), allowing them to combine work and domestic obligations and manage fatigue by taking sufficient rest (7). Additionally, having control over one's working hours meets the basic human need for autonomy (ie, self-determination) and can have beneficial effects on motivation and well-being (eg, 8-13). As such, WTC may be a powerful instrument to help employees in managing high work demands and in combining work and domestic obligations.

A recent review showed that, although many studies found evidence for favorable associations between WTC and work-nonwork balance, health and well-being, and job related outcomes, there were also inconsistent findings (14). We propose three explanations for such inconsistencies. First, the exact measurement of WTC differs strongly among studies (eg, compare 15-18). Only a few studies measured a full range of WTC sub-dimensions (ie, control over starting- and ending times, leave, breaks, specific working days, the distribution of working hours over the week, and overtime work). These variations in measurements of WTC may impact the associations with potential outcomes. Second, associations of reported WTC and employees' outcomes are likely to depend on employees' need for WTC. It is likely that the fit between access to and need for WTC (ie, 'WTC match') is more important for potential employees' outcomes than just the reported availability of WTC. Thirdly, it is often unclear whether employees who report to have access to WTC actually use WTC, which could be a prerequisite for beneficial effects to occur (19, 20).

Based on these points, it is relevant to adopt a WTC measurement that involves a full range of specific WTC sub-dimensions to study employees' need for, access to, and use of WTC and to pay specific attention to the potential (mis)match between the need for and access to WTC [hereafter referred to as "WTC (mis)match"] (7). Therefore, the first aim of this paper was to examine the prevalence of (i) various WTC sub-dimensions, (ii) employees' need for, access to, and use of WTC, and (iii) the WTC mismatch. Our second aim was to examine the relations of WTC mismatch and WTC use with the potential outcomes.

Aim 1: Prevalence of WTC need, access, use, and (mis) match

Although WTC is becoming more prevalent (21, 22), and modern organizational interventions that incorporate WTC gain popularity (eg, self-scheduling, 23-27; boundaryless work, 28-30), it is still unknown whether access to WTC differs for various WTC sub-dimensions and to what extent such WTC sub-dimensions are needed or used by employees. Additionally, several studies stress the importance of a proper fit between individual needs and working hours of employees (eg, 24, 30-35), but WTC has not yet been researched from such an "individual match" principle.

Our first research questions are therefore:

* RQ1: What is the prevalence of WTC need, access, and use?

* RQ2: What is the prevalence of WTC mismatch?

In answering these questions, prevalences will be reported separately for shift and day workers. The organization of working time differs strongly between shift and day workers (36), which has been found to influence levels of WTC (6). Moreover, various studies have shown that especially shift workers are at risk for adverse health effects as a result of their abnormal working times (eg, 1, 36-41).

Aim 2: WTC in relation to employees' work-home interference, fatigue, and job motivation

As WTC can be beneficial through different mechanisms (ie, time-regulation, recovery-regulation and self-determination) (6), we focus on three outcomes that match these diverse mechanisms: work-home interference (WHI), fatigue, and job motivation (ie, an employees' willingness to invest sustained and directed effort for accomplishing work; 9, see also 10). …

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