Why Weekends are Welcome

Great expectations. The want for relaxation.  Ruminations of the debaucherous night ahead (not you of course!) or perhaps the couch envisaged in all of its cushy grandeur.  Sly glances at the office clock: the short hand oh so close to the ‘5’.  Here comes the end of the working week! 

Us mere mortals are far from indifferent to the pressures of employment, in fact we often yield to the nine to five.  It is for this reason that our working week has evolved into its present form: five days on, two days off.  It gives us balance, it allows us to reflect, allows us to unwind, and always gives us something to look forward to.  Sure, a fair majority are happy with—or even love—their job, but even these people need the time to step back.

A recent study investigated how these weekend recovery experiences were associated with specific states of positive affect (e.g., joviality, serenity, and self-assurance) and negative affect (e.g., sadness, fear, fatigue), during the following workweek.  Results suggested that positive off-work experiences during the weekend contributed significantly to positive affect at the end of the weekend and during the following week.  Specifically, engaging in these recovery behaviours on these two glorious days of weekend significantly decreased tension and facilitated the regeneration of those all important mental resources for self-regulation.

Employees undoubtedly bring their emotions, feelings, and moods to work every day of the working week. These emotions, which I’m sure most can attest to, have a direct impact on the work environment.  These findings indirectly show the positive effect that weekend-recovery can have on organisational outcomes, especially in relation to employee interactions in things such as group-decision making, creativity, problem solving, and so on.  In the spirit of brevity, here are two all important take-aways:

1)      The authors suggest that employees should engage in weekend activities that involve mastery (e.g., becoming a crochet Jedi), psychological detachment (e.g., a few glasses of vino floating in the neighbours pool?), and relaxation (maybe it’s time to adopt some ancient Zen practices? Go for a walk even).  I’ll leave how you do this up to you!

2)      Employers need to facilitate these weekend recovery behaviours as much as possible.  For starters, where possible avoid giving employees work over the weekend, the consequent resentment is likely to compound.  And focus ‘recovery’ encouragement on those you think may most need it!

Fritz, C., Sonnentag, S., Spector, P., McInroe, A. (2010).  The weekend matters: Relationships between stress recovery and affective experiences.  Journal of Organisational Behavior, 31, 1137-1162.

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