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Mixing work and pleasure lowers overall sense of well-being

Researchers from the University of Zurich recently investigated how well people manage the boundaries between their work and personal lives. The study revealed that mixing work and pleasure can affect people’s sense of well-being and lead to exhaustion.

The online analysis was focused on 1,916 employees from various sectors of German-speaking countries. Over 70 percent of the participants surveyed were married and their average age was 42.3 years. Half of the individuals worked 40 hours or more per week, and 55.8 percent of them were men.

Participants were asked how well they were able to divide their work lives from their non-work lives. The subjects reported how often they took work home, how often they worked on weekends, and how often they thought about work during their time off.

In addition, the participants were asked whether they made time after work to relax, socialize, or to participate in sports or hobbies. They were also questioned about how much effort they put into keeping their work lives from interfering with their private lives.

In order to measure a person’s level of well-being, the researchers took into consideration the individual’s sense of physical and emotional exhaustion as well as their sense of balance between work and home life.

The researchers found that employees who did not have a distinct separation between their work and home lives were less likely to participate in activities that could help them relax and recuperate after the demands of work. As a result, these individuals felt more exhausted and had a lower sense of well-being.

“Employees who integrated work into their non-work life reported being more exhausted because they recovered less,” explained study lead author Ariane Wepfer. “This lack of recovery activities furthermore explains why people who integrate their work into the rest of their lives have a lower sense of well-being.”

Wepfer said it is important to examine the findings of this research to improve occupational health. She believes that companies should have policies in place that may help employees balance their workload without affecting their personal lives.

“Organizational policy and culture should be adjusted to help employees manage their work-non-work boundaries in a way that does not impair their well-being,” says Wepfer. “After all, impaired well-being goes hand in hand with reduced productivity and reduced creativity.”

The study is published in Springer’s Journal of Business and Psychology.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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