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The impact of extended shifts on strain‐based work–life conflict: A qualitative analysis of the role of context on temporal processes of retroactive and anticipatory spillover

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JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Sep 2020
DatePublished (current) - 19 Sep 2020
Number of pages18
Original languageEnglish


Twelve‐h shifts can facilitate 24‐h service provision and are often implemented in pursuit of financial goals. Existing evidence on the benefits of extended shifts is mixed. This study examines the impact of extended shifts on employee strain in a large mental healthcare organisation in England. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with nurses and healthcare assistants at 6 and 12 months intervals(n=70). Findings illustrate how extended shift patterns have a profound negative effect on high demands already confronting mental health staff, shaping spillover of strain. Analysis contributes to development of strain‐based work–life conflict theory by conceptualising spillover as temporal and iterative. We argue theory should differentiate between retroactive (backward facing) and anticipatory (forward facing) spillover processes. Using context as a lens and identification of new dimensions to strain‐based spillover aids interpretation of differential effects of extended shifts across settings. The study discusses implications for organisations, recovery and scheduling of shift work.

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© 2020 The Authors. Human Resource Management Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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