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July 1, 2021
Studies have shown that positive work reflection during evening leisure time is related to short-term affective benefits at bedtime and in the next morning. This study examines whether the favourable outcomes of positive work reflection persist into the next workday and tests mediating processes between evening positive work reflection and next-day work engagement. Based on daily survey data from 152 employees (total of 687 days), we found that positive work reflection predicted next morning perceived work meaningfulness, next morning psychological availability, and next-day co-worker support. Perceived work meaningfulness and co-worker support, but not psychological availability, in turn, predicted afternoon work engagement. Work engagement predicted subsequent positive work reflection. This study demonstrates that positively thinking about work-related issues during leisure time is associated with positive outcomes during the next workday, which prompt subsequent positive work reflection.

Practitioner points

Employees should be encouraged to reflect positively about their day at work during after-work hours; instead of striving for full mental disengagement from work, employees could develop habits of positively reflecting about their workday during evening hours.

Being fully engaged during the day at work may support positive work reflection during the evening; accordingly, employees may focus on work experiences characterized by high vigour, dedication, and absorption.

Being aware of one’s work meaningfulness and receiving co-worker support is helpful for translating positive work reflection into work engagement; accordingly, mental exercises that emphasize meaningfulness and acts that facilitate co-worker support might be effective tools for increasing work engagement.

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Author: Sabine Sonnentag,
Amy Wei Tian,
Jie Cao,
Svetlana V. Grushina