Vacation Effects on Behaviour, Cognition and Emotions of Compulsive and Non-compulsive Workers: Do Obsessive Workers Go ‘Cold Turkey’?

Authors

  • Jessica de Bloom,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
    2. School of Social Sciences & Humanities, University of Tampere, Finland
    • Correspondence

      Jessica de Bloom, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, FI-33014 University of Tampere, Finland.

      Email: Jessica.de.Bloom@uta.fi

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  • Mirjam Radstaak,

    1. Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • Sabine Geurts

    1. Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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Abstract

Compulsive workers often face psychological and physical health disturbances because of working long hours and an obsessive preoccupation with work during off-job time. Prolonged respite episodes may either relief these employees from their daily stressors to recover or trigger withdrawal symptoms. Our research question was as follows: How do (1) work hours, (2) rumination and (3) affective well-being unfold for compulsive workers compared with non-compulsive workers across long vacations?

In a longitudinal field study, work hours, rumination and affective well-being were assessed in 54 employees 2 weeks before, during and in the first, second and fourth week after a long summer vacation. Working compulsively was assessed 3 weeks before vacation.

Work hours decreased during and increased after vacation. Levels of rumination dropped during vacation and remained below baseline until 2 weeks after vacation. Initial differences in rumination between obsessive and non-obsessive workers disappeared during and directly after vacation. Affective well-being rose during vacation and returned to baseline directly after vacation. Increases in affective well-being during vacation as well as decreases after vacation were greater in obsessive workers than in non-obsessive workers.

Vacations seem to temporarily offset characteristic differences between obsessive and non-obsessive workers, decrease rumination and improve affective well-being. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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