Work interrupted: The dual nature of daily work interruptions and the moderating role of daily perceived overqualification

Dr Barbara Körner, Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour, discusses the dual nature of daily work interruptions and the moderating role of perceived overqualification.

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One of the most pertinent task-related stressors, work interruptions refer to unexpected encounters that break the flow of an individual’s work before a chosen task goal is reached. Following research on stress appraisal, individuals appear to appraise interruptions as a hindrance to their task completion, thereby eliciting negative outcomes. Yet, drawing from foundational theorizing within the cognitive appraisal theory, we posited that daily work interruptions subsume both hindering and challenging aspects, thus leading to opposing effects on outcomes (i.e., daily job satisfaction, daily creative process engagement, and daily work-private life conflict). Based on cognitive appraisal theory, we further proposed that if employees perceive themselves to be overqualified for that day’s work, this will constitute a resource surplus that acts as a boundary condition for the hindering and challenging effects of that day’s work interruptions. Daily diary data collected over 10 workdays (N = 213) revealed that daily work interruptions did have opposing indirect effects on daily job satisfaction via a hindrance pathway (i.e., increased daily negative affect) and a challenge pathway (i.e., increased daily work goal progress). Further, high levels of daily overqualification buffered the positive relationship between daily interruptions and daily negative affect. Our study advances current research on daily work interruptions by integrating hindering and challenging aspects in our theoretical model. Results further highlight that perceptions of overqualification vary between days and that daily perceived overqualification is a resource when dealing with work interruptions. 

About the speaker: 

Dr. Barbara Körner is a Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at Leeds University Business School. Before joining the Business School, she worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, where she also completed her PhD in 2021. Her research focuses on work stress and work resources. She is particularly interested in how employees deal with adverse effects of workplace stressors and how individual and organisational resources can support employees in their daily work life. 

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