Does the association between workload and work engagement depend on being workaholic? A cross-cultural study on Italian and Canadian employees


Work intensification implies increased workload which, in turn, can impact on work engagement, and workaholism; however, their mutual relations have not received adequate scholarly attention up to now. This cross-cultural study, consistently with the Job Demands-Resources model, examined the association between workload and work engagement and verified if workaholism acted as a moderator. Moreover, we examined if cultural differences affected these associations. To this purpose, 416 Canadian and 412 Italian employees filled a cross-sectional questionnaire. The association between workload and work engagement varied significantly between countries, and was moderated by workaholism. Results discussed in view of the theoretical framework provide insights for both scholars and managers in terms of human resource management and job design.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20705948v13n3p589

Keywords: work intensification; workload; workaholism; work engagement; Job Demands-Resources model


Bakker, A.B. (2009). Building engagement in the workplace. In R. J. Burke and C.L. Cooper (Eds.), The peak performing organization (pp. 50-72). Oxon, UK: Routledge.

Bakker, A. B. and Albrecht, S. (2018). Work engagement: current trends. Career Development International, 23(1), 4-11.

Bakker, A. B., Albrecht, S. L., and Leiter, M. P. (2011). Key questions regarding work engagement. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 20(1), 4-28.

Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., Oerlemans, W., and Sonnentag, S. (2013). Workaholism and daily recovery: A day reconstruction study of leisure activities. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34(1), 87-107.

Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., and Sanz-Vergel, A. I. (2014). Burnout and work engagement: The JD–R approach. Annual Review of Organizational Psycholology and Organizational Behavior, 1(1), 389-411.

Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2005). The crossover of burnout and work engagement among working couples. Human Relations, 58(5), 661-689.

Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., and Verbeke, W. (2004). Using the Job Demands-Resources model to predict burnout and performance. Human Resource Management, 43, 83-104.

Bakker, A. B., Hakanen, J. J., Demerouti, E., and Xanthopoulou, D. (2007). Job resources boost work engagement, particularly when job demands are high. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(2), 274.

Balducci, C., Avanzi, L., and Fraccaroli, F. (2018). The individual “costs” of workaholism: An analysis based on multisource and prospective data. Journal of Management, 44(7), 2961-2986.

Balducci, C., Fraccaroli, F., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2010). Psychometric properties of the Italian version of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES-9): A cross-cultural analysis. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 26, 143–149.

Bent, R., Seaman, C. E., and Ingram, A. (1999). Staff motivation in small food manufacturing enterprises. British Food Journal, 101(9), 654-667.

Biggs, A., Brough, P., and Barbour, J. P. (2014). Enhancing work-related attitudes and work engagement: A quasi-experimental study of the impact of an organizational intervention. International Journal of Stress Management, 21(1), 43-68.

Burchell, B., Ladipo, D., and Wilkinson, F. (Eds.). (2002). Job insecurity and work intensification. London: Routledge.

Burke, R. J., Singh, P., and Fiksenbaum, L. (2010). Work intensity: potential antecedents and consequences. Personnel Review, 39(3), 347-360.

Charyszyn, S. and Tucker, P. (2001). New light on working hours. The Ergonomist, 7.

Cheung, F., Tang, C. S., Mian, M., and Koh, J. M. (2018). Workaholism on Job Burnout: A Comparison with US and Chinese Employees. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2546.

Chirumbolo, A., Urbini, F.., Callea, A., Lo Presti, A., and Talamo, A. (2017). Occupations at Risk and Organizational Well-Being: An Empirical Test of a Job Insecurity Integrated Model. Frontiers in Psychology, 8:2084.

Ciavolino, E., Redd, R., Evrinomy, A., Falcone, M., Fini, V., Kadianaki, I., ... and Rochira, A. (2017). Views of Context. An instrument for the analysis of the cultural milieu. A first validation study. Electronic Journal of Applied Statistical Analysis, 10(2), 599-628.

Cox, T., Griffiths, A., and Rial-González, E. (2000). Research on work-related stress. European Communities.

Coyne, I. and Ong, T. (2007). Organizational citizenship behaviour and turnover intention: A cross-cultural study. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(6), 1085-1097.

Crawford, E. R., LePine, J., and Rich, B. L. (2010). Linking job demands and resources to employee engagement and burnout: A theoretical extension and meta-analytic test. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(5), 834-848.

Del Líbano, M., Salanova, M., and Schaufeli, W. (2010). Validity of a brief workaholism scale. Psicothema-Revista de Psicologia, 22(1), 143-150.

Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., Nachreiner, F., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2001). The job demands-resources model of burnout. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(3), 499.

Di Stefano, G., and Gaudiino, M. (2019). Workaholism and work engagement: How are they similar? How are they different? A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 28(3), 329-347.

Eskildsen, J., Kristensen, K., and Gjesing Antvor, H. (2010). The relationship between job satisfaction and national culture. The TQM Journal, 22(4), 369-378.

Franke, F. (2015). Is work intensification extra stress? Journal of Personnel Psychology, 14, 17–27.

Gaudiino, M. and Di Stefano, G. (2019). Investing in and recovering from work: effects on employees’ health through workaholism and work engagement. Paper presented at the EAWOP Congress "Working for the greater good" (pp. 1939-1939). EAWOP.

Girardi, D., Falco, A., De Carlo, A., Dal Corso, L., and Benevene, P. (2018). Perfectionism and workaholism in managers: the moderating role of workload. TPM: Testing, Psychometrics, Methodology in Applied Psychology, 25(4).

Green-Demers, I., Pelletier, L. G., and Ménard, S. (1997). The impact of behavioural difficulty on the saliency of the association between self-determined motivation and environmental behaviours. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 29(3), 157.

Guglielmi, D., Simbula, S., Schaufeli, W. B., and Depolo, M. (2012). Self-efficacy and workaholism as initiators of the job demands-resources model. Career Development International, 17(4), 375-389.

Hakanen, J. J., Schaufeli, W. B., and Ahola, K. (2008). The Job Demands-Resources model: A three-year cross-lagged study of burnout, depression, commitment, and work engagement. Work and Stress, 22(3), 224-241.

Hallberg, U. E., Johansson, G., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2007). Type A behavior and work situation: Associations with burnout and work engagement. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 48(2), 135-142.

Harpaz, I. and Sniz, R. (Eds.). (2014). Heavy work investment: Its nature, sources, outcomes, and future directions. Routledge.

Hayes, A. F. (2018). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. Guilford Publications.

Hofstede Insights (2019). Compare Countries. Retrieved June 26, 2020.

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., and Minkov, M. (2005). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind (Vol. 2). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Ingusci, E., Callea, A., Chirumbolo, A., and Urbini, F. (2016). Job crafting and job satisfaction in a sample of Italian teachers: the mediating role of Perceived Organizational Support. Electronic Journal of Applied Statistical Analysis, 9(4), 675-687.

Johnson, S., Cooper, C., Cartwright, S., Donald, I., Taylor, P., and Millet, C. (2005). The experience of work-related stress across occupations. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 20(2), 178-187.

Korunka, C. and Kubicek, B. (2017). Job demands in a changing world of work. In C. Korunka and B. Kubicek (Eds.). Job demands in a changing world of work (pp. 1-5). Springer, Cham.

Kubicek, B., Korunka, C., Paškvan, M., Prem, R., and Gerdenitsch, C. (2014). Changing working conditions at the onset of the twenty-first century: Facts from international datasets. In C. Korunka and P. Hoonakker (Eds.). The impact of ICT on quality of working life (pp. 25-41). Springer, Dordrecht.

Landers, R. N. and Behrend, T. S. (2015). An inconvenient truth: Arbitrary distinctions between organizational, Mechanical Turk, and other convenience samples. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 8(2), 142-164.

Law, D. W., Sweeney, J. T., and Summers, S. L. (2008). An examination of the influence of contextual and individual variables on public accountants’ exhaustion. In V. Arnold, B. Clinton, A. Lillis, R. Roberts, C. Wolfe, and S. Wright (Eds.). Advances in accounting behavioral research (pp. 129-153). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Lee, R. T. and Ashforth, B. E. (1996). A meta-analytic examination of the correlates of the three dimensions of job burnout. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81(2), 123.

Le Fevre, M., Boxall, P., and Macky, K. (2015). Which workers are more vulnerable to work intensification? An analysis of two national surveys. International Journal of Manpower, 36(6), 966-983.

Lo Presti, A. (2013). Una valutazione del modello Job Demands-Resources su un campione di operatori della salute. Psicologia della Salute, 3, 51-74.

Lo Presti, A., Callea, A., and Pluviano, S. (2019). To Be or Not to be Temp? An Analysis of the Moderating Role of Motives for Accepting Temporary Employment. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences/Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration, 36(4), 473-483.

Lo Presti, A. and Nonnis, M. (2014). Testing the Job Demands-Resources model: Evidence from a sample of Italian employees. TPM: Testing, Psychometrics, Methodology in Applied Psychology, 21(1), 89-101.

Mauno, S., Kinnunen, U., and Ruokolainen, M. (2007). Job demands and resources as antecedents of work engagement: A longitudinal study. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 70(1), 149-171.

Molino, M., Bakker, A. B., and Ghislieri, C. (2016). The role of workaholism in the job demands-resources model. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 29(4), 400-414.

Mosier, S. K. (1983). Workaholics: An analysis of their stress, success and priorities (Doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Austin).

Mudrack, P. E. (2004). Job involvement, obsessive-compulsive personality traits, and workaholic behavioral tendencies. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 17(5), 490-508.

Oates, W. E. (1971). Confessions of a Workaholic: The Facts about Work Addiction. New York:

World Publishing

Ogbonnaya, C., Daniels, K., Connolly, S., and van Veldhoven, M. (2017). Integrated and isolated impact of high-performance work practices on employee health and well-being: A comparative study. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 22(1), 98.

Ouweneel, E., Le Blanc, P. M., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2013). Do it yourself: An online positive psychology intervention to promote positive emotions, selfefficacy, and engagement at work. Career Development International, 18(2), 173-195.

Paoli, P. and Merllié, D. (2001). Third European survey on working conditions 2000. European Foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions.

Parikh, P., Taukari, A., and Bhattacharya, T. (2004). Occupational stress and coping among nurses. Journal of Health Management, 6(2), 115-127.

Paškvan, M. and Kubicek, B. (2017). The intensification of work. In C. Korunka and B. Kubicek (Eds.). Job demands in a changing world of work (pp. 25-43). Springer, Cham.

Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y., and Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 879–903.

Preacher, K. J., and Hayes, A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior research methods, instruments, and computers, 36(4), 717-731.

Prem, R. (2017). The Effects of a Changing World of Work on Daily Working Life. In C. Korunka and B. Kubicek (Eds.). Job Demands in a Changing World of Work (pp. 111-129). Springer, Cham.

Prieto, L. L., Soria, M. S., Martínez, I. M., and Schaufeli, W. (2008). Extension of the Job Demands-Resources model in the prediction of burnout and engagement among teachers over time. Psicothema, 20(3), 354-360.

Salanova, M., Agut, S., and Peiró, J. M. (2005). Linking organizational resources and work engagement to employee performance and customer loyalty: the mediation of service climate. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(6), 1217.

Schaufeli, W. B. (2017). Applying the job demands-resources model. Organizational Dynamics, 2(46), 120-132.

Schaufeli, W. B. and Bakker, A. B. (2004). Job demands, job resources, and their relationship with burnout and engagement: A multisample study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25(3), 293-315.

Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., and Salanova, M. (2006). The measurement of work engagement with a short questionnaire: A cross-national study. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 66, 701-716.

Schaufeli, W. and Salanova, M. (2007). Work engagement. Managing social and ethical issues in organizations, 135, 177.

Schaufeli, W. B., Shimazu, A., and Taris, T. W. (2009). Being driven to work excessively hard: The evaluation of a two-factor measure of workaholism in the Netherlands and Japan. Cross-Cultural Research, 43(4), 320-348.

Schaufeli, W. B., Taris, T. W., and Bakker, A. B. (2006). Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde: On the differences between work engagement and workaholism. In R. J. Burke (Ed.). Research companion to working time and work addiction (193-217). Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, UK.

Schaufeli, W. B., Taris, T. W., Le Blanc, P., Peeters, M., Bakker, A. B., and De Jonge, J. (2001). Maakt arbeid gezond. Op zoek naar de bevlogen werknemer [Does work make happy? In search of the engaged worker]. De Psycholoog, 36, 422–428.

Schaufeli, W. B., Taris, T. W., and Van Rhenen, W. (2008). Workaholism, burnout, and work engagement: three of a kind or three different kinds of employee well‐being? Applied Psychology, 57(2), 173-203.|

Schnorpfeil, P., Noll, A., Wirtz, P., Schulze, R., Ehlert, U., Frey, K., and Fischer, J.E. (2004). Assessment of exhaustion and related risk factors in employees in the manufacturing industry: a cross-sectional study. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 75(8), 535–540.

Shimazu, A. and Schaufeli, W. B. (2009). Is workaholism good or bad for employee well-being? The distinctiveness of workaholism and work engagement among Japanese employees. Industrial Health, 47(5), 495-502.

Shimazu, A., Schaufeli, W. B., Kamiyama, K., and Kawakami, N. (2015). Workaholism vs. work engagement: The two different predictors of future well-being and performance. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 22(1), 18-23.

Spence, J. T. and Robbins, A. S. (1992). Workaholism: Definition, measurement, and preliminary results. Journal of Personality Assessment, 58(1), 160-178.

Sussman, S. (2012). Workaholism: A review. Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy, (1).

Tomic, M. and Tomic, E. (2011). Existential fulfilment, workload and work engagement among nurses. Journal of Research in Nursing, 16(5), 468-479.

Tremblay, M. A., Blanchard, C. M., Villeneuve, M., Taylor, S., and Pelletier, L. G. (2009). Work Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation Scale: Its Value for Organizational Psychology Research. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 41(4), 213.

Vakola, M. and Nikolaou, I. (2005). Attitudes towards organizational change. Employee Relations, 27(2), 160-174.

Webster, J. R., Beehr, T. A., and Love, K. (2011). Extending the challenge-hindrance model of

occupational stress: The role of appraisal. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 79(2), 505–516.

Wright, T. A. and Cropanzano, R. (1998). Emotional exhaustion as a predictor of job performance and voluntary turnover. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(3), 486.

Xanthopoulou, D., Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., and Schaufeli, W. B. (2009). Reciprocal relationships between job resources, personal resources, and work engagement. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74(3), 235-244.

Zeytinoglu, I., Denton, M., Davies, S., Baumann, A., Blythe, J., and Boos, L. (2007). Associations between work intensification, stress and job satisfaction: The case of nurses in Ontario. Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, 62(2), 201-225.

Full Text: pdf

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.