Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

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Volume 92 Issue 1 (March 2019), Pages i-iv, 1-224

The impact of within‐day work breaks on daily recovery processes: An event‐based pre‐/post‐experience sampling study (pages 191-211)

Research on recovery from work stress has emphasized the importance of within‐day work breaks. However, prior research has not been designed and analysed in a way that fully aligns with the processes described by the underlying theoretical framework (i.e., the effort‐recovery model). The current paper examines the effects of within‐day work breaks on recovery using an event‐based pre‐/post (EBPP)‐design, in a way that more fully captures the recovery process as described by the effort‐recovery model. We also included designs used in previous studies (i.e., an interval‐based design and an event‐based design without pre‐break strain measures) to demonstrate the differences between the EBPP design and previous designs. The results of the EBPP model using a sample of Chinese white‐collar employees showed that within‐day work breaks are significantly associated with reduced fatigue and negative affect and increased positive affect, supporting the predicted recovery effects of within‐day work breaks. However, mixed results were found in the interval‐based design, and non‐significant results were found in the event‐based design without pre‐break measurements. We discuss methodological implications and explain how the EBPP design could be applied to study other episodic phenomena. Practitioner points An event‐based pre‐/post‐design (EBPP) can be used to study recovery and other momentary, episodic events at work. Within‐day work breaks can help employees reduce fatigue and negative affect and increase positive affect. Relaxation break activities, nutrition‐intake activities, social activities, and cognitive activities help recovery.

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