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Managers need to disconnect from work at night, researchers say


Photo: AntonioGuillem/iStockphoto

Gainesville, FL — Knowing when to log off and unplug from work can make managers better leaders, results of a recent study show.

Researchers surveyed U.S.-based managers and their employees to gauge the managers’ ability to disconnect from their jobs in the evening, their level of energy and how strongly they identified as a leader in the morning at work. Meanwhile, the employees rated their managers on their leadership abilities.

“What we found is that on nights when leaders were able to completely turn off and not think about work, they were more energized the next day and they felt better connected to their leadership role at work,” lead study author Klodiana Lanaj, a professor at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, said in a press release. “On those same days, their followers reported that these leaders were more effective in motivating them and guiding their work.

“But on nights when leaders reported that they were thinking about the negative aspects of work, they couldn’t really recuperate their energy by the morning. They saw themselves as less leader-like and they weren’t as effective, as rated by their followers.”

Less-experienced managers were even more vulnerable to leadership ineffectiveness when focusing on their jobs while at home, the release states.

Lanaj suggests employers look at ways to help managers disconnect, such as reducing after-hours emails and lowering expectations for being on call while at home. Another possible solution is disabling notifications after hours, or leaving work computers or phones in a dedicated room.

“You can start small,” Lanaj said. “Say, ‘After this time in the evening, I won’t check my work email.’ See where that takes you.”

The study was published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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