Short-term effects of short-term work: Dynamics in job fatigue across two national lockdowns
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Description: Of the many dramatic changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, employees and workplaces have been particularly affected by pandemic-related policies, restrictions, and economic challenges. It is commonly assumed that work fatigue among employees has increased under pandemic conditions, and that short-term interventions to offset employment-related stresses during this time have been effective. However, these propositions have been largely untested, and current theoretical frameworks and research designs fall short in capturing and documenting the complexity of worker well-being and work interventions. Using 17 waves of data from an ongoing longitudinal data collection in Germany (December 2019 to June 2021, n = 1,053 employees), we model discontinuous change in work fatigue among individuals employed during this time, as well as how participation in government-sponsored short term work program— Kurzarbeit—affected their change trajectories. Our findings suggest that many of our “common sense” beliefs about fatigue and intervention during pandemics are poor approximations of employees’ real experiences, and that more discovery-based work is needed to prepare us for future crises.