The effects of a workplace intervention on employees’ cortisol awakening response


Almeida DM, Lee S, Walter KN, Lawson KM, Kelly EL, Buxton OM. The effects of a workplace intervention on employees’ cortisol awakening response. Community, Work & Family [Internet]. 2018;21 (2) :151-167.


ABSTRACTWork-related stressors are known to adversely affect employees’ stress physiology, including the cortisol awakening response (CAR) – or the spike in cortisol levels shortly after people wake up that aids in mobilizing energy. A flat or blunted CAR has been linked to chronic stress and burnout. This daily diary study tested the effects of a workplace intervention on employed parents’ CAR. Specifically, we tested whether the effects of the intervention on CAR were moderated by the type of days (workday versus non-work day). Data came from 94 employed parents from an information technology firm who participated in the baseline and 12-month diurnal cortisol components of the Work, Family, and Health Study, a group-randomized field experiment. The workplace intervention was designed to reduce work-family conflict (WFC) and implemented after the baseline data collection. Diurnal salivary cortisol was collected on 4 days at both baseline and 12 months. Multilevel modeling revealed that the intervention significantly increased employees’ CAR at 12 months on non-workdays, but this was not evident on workdays or for employees in the usual practice condition. The results provide evidence that the intervention was effective in enhancing employees’ biological stress physiology particularly during opportunities for recovery that are more likely to occur on non-work days.

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Last updated on 05/03/2018