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Work intensity, emotional exhaustion and life satisfaction: The moderating role of psychological detachment

Janet A. Boekhorst (York University, Toronto, Canada)
Parbudyal Singh (School of Human Resource Management, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Ronald Burke (York University, Toronto, Canada)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 7 August 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine a moderated mediation model that investigated the moderating role of psychological detachment in the relationship between work intensity and life satisfaction via emotional exhaustion.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from 149 hospital-based nurses who completed a questionnaire about working conditions and individual outcomes. The data were analyzed using hierarchical moderated regression and bootstrapping techniques.

Findings

The results confirm that work intensity is negatively related to life satisfaction via emotional exhaustion. The results also demonstrate that psychological detachment diminishes the negative influence of emotional exhaustion on life satisfaction. The conditional indirect effect model shows that the indirect relationship between work intensity and life satisfaction is strongest at low psychological detachment.

Research limitations/implications

This research advances our understanding of the negative work and non-work implications associated with work intensity. The key limitation of this research was the cross-sectional data set. HRM researchers should seek to replicate and expand the results with multi-wave data to extend our understanding of the implications of work intensity.

Practical implications

HRM practitioners need to begin implementing measures to address work intensity in order to thwart its negative effects. HRM practitioners need to implement policies and procedures that limit the intensity of work demands to promote positive employee work and non-work outcomes.

Originality/value

This is the first study to show that work intensity can influence life satisfaction through emotional exhaustion. Contrary to most recovery research, this research is also among the first to focus on the moderating role of psychological detachment, especially within a conditional indirect effect model.

Keywords

Citation

Boekhorst, J.A., Singh, P. and Burke, R. (2017), "Work intensity, emotional exhaustion and life satisfaction: The moderating role of psychological detachment", Personnel Review, Vol. 46 No. 5, pp. 891-907. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-05-2015-0130

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited