Research Investigates the Credibility of the ‘Monday Blues’ in Employee Workweeks

July 27, 2021by Noah Shaw0

Summary of:

Pindek, S., Zhou, Z. E., Kessler, S. R., Krajcevska, A., & Spector, P. E. (2021). Workdays are not created equal: Job satisfaction and job stressors across the workweek. Human Relations, 74(9), 1447–1472. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726720924444

Background & Theory:

Common wisdom suggest that people enjoy going to work on Fridays as the work week draws to a close. Mondays, on the other hand, are often dreaded by employees, enough so that many claim to have the “Monday Blues.” But is there really a difference to how employees experience different days of the work week? A recent study examined this question to see how perceived job stressors and job satisfaction differ on Mondays versus Fridays.

Question(s):

Research was conducted by Shani Pindek et al. to answer the following questions:

    1. What is the relationship between time of the workweek and employee job satisfaction?
    2. What is the relationship between time of the workweek and perceived workplace incivility?

Methods:

139 full-time staff members at a large US university participated in this study. The staff members were not employed in teaching positions and worked a traditional workweek (M-F, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm).

The participants were asked to complete two surveys daily for nine consecutive workdays. The first survey was sent out at 5:00 pm each day and measured employee job stressors, which included the variables of perceived organizational constraints and perceived incivility. The second survey was sent out at 9:00 pm and measured employee job satisfaction.

Results:

The authors first pinpointed two contrasting theories on how employees feel at the beginning of the week; one being that employees feel rested and recharged after the weekend, and the other being that employees are upset the week is beginning, thereby embodying a negative mood.

The results of this study were in support of the latter theory, or the “Monday Blues” perspective. Employees experienced lower levels of job satisfaction at the start of the workweek compared to the end. Similarly, perceived incivility was greater at the beginning of the week than at the end of the week.

The authors pointed out that none of their findings were consistent with the theory that the weekend leaves employees feeling rested and recharged, thereby leading to greater job satisfaction. The reason behind this may lie in the difference between recovery and mood—that even if someone feels recovered after the weekend doesn’t necessarily indicate a positive mood.

This study additionally holds interesting findings for employees’ experiences on Fridays. When employees encounter a job stressor on Friday, it is possible that they are more capable of handling or ignoring the stressor because of their known upcoming recovery break (the weekend). This is the opposite for employees’ experiences on Mondays, where they may perceive a job stressor to be more severe because of the longer period which they must cope with the stressor.

What We Can Learn:

Looking over this research, we can take away the following key insights:

  • This study suggests that employees are less satisfied with their jobs and report more perceived incivility at work on Mondays versus Fridays.
  • The authors suggested that scheduling employee wellness initiatives earlier in the week may therefore be more effective than later in the week. Similarly, major organizational changes may be better announced towards the end of the week, as employees will be better equipped to handle the stress during the weekend.

Final Takeaways

For Consultants: Conflict resolution processes may be more effective later in the week. Employees may be better able to handle the stress of conflict knowing the weekend is coming up.

For Everyone: The “Monday Blues” is real. Find ways to lighten up the days early in your workweek to find more job satisfaction.

Noah Shaw

Noah is the Peace Operations Coordinator at Pollack Peacebuilding Systems and holds a Master's in Dispute Resolution from the Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law.

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