Do Employees Experience and Perceive Work Time Differently? – Examining the Effects of Working Hours on Well-Being in Abu Dhabi

Masood Badri, Guang Yang, Mugheer Khamis Alkhaili, Hamad Aldhaheri, Saad Yaaqeib, Muna Albahar, Asma Alrashdi


This study aims to investigate the association between working hours and well-being factors for full-time employees in Abu Dhabi. We specifically seek to analyze and confirm the relationship between work hours and well-being factors such as health, work-life balance, social connections, income satisfaction, and life satisfaction across different demographic groups of the working population. Data were drawn from the 3rd Cycle of the Abu Dhabi Quality-of-Life Survey, which included 40,016 full-time employees. Guided by the Job Strain Model and other theoretical frameworks, we performed correlation, ANOVA, and regression analyses to understand the interaction between job demands and job control and how this interaction impacts worker well-being outcomes. The results show that the three top factors most significantly associated with working hours are work– life balance, fulfilling family responsibility, and quality of time with family. For some segments, such as females, singles, non-Emiratis, and those of lower educational qualifications, working hours negatively affected their opportunity to socially meet with friends and opportunities to be more physically active. A negative relationship between working hours and mental stress is observed in many demographic segments. Overall, these findings emphasize that increased job demands without adequate job control lead to strain, but the manifestations and coping mechanisms can vary significantly based on gender, societal roles, and workplace dynamics. The present Abu Dhabi study extends current research by investigating the associations between working hours and different well-being factors among multiple segments of the working population that differ in demographic characteristics. The analyses offer clear and valuable insights to policymakers, researchers, and the public interested in understanding the influence of working time on well-being.


Keywords: working time, life satisfaction, health, work-life balance, Abu Dhabi.



Full Text:



ALAMEDDINE, M., OTTERBACH, S., RAFII, B., & SOUSA-POZA, A. (2018). Work hour constraints in the German nursing workforce: A quarter of a century in review. Health Policy, 122, pp. 1101-1108.

AL GHAILANI, B., AL NUAIMI, M., AL MAZROUEI, A., et al. (2019). Impact of an intervention program to improve well-being of residents in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Ibnosina Journal of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, 11(02), pp. 77-81.

ALOSAIMI, F. D., KAZIM, S. N., ALMUFLEH, A. S., et al. (2015). Prevalence of stress and its determinants among residents in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Medical Journal, 36(5), pp. 605-612.

ALVES, M. G. D. M., HÖKERBERG, Y. H., & FAERSTEIN, E. (2013). Trends and diversity in the empirical use of Karasek’s demand-control model (job strain): A systematic review. Revista brasileira de epidemiologia, 16, pp. 125-136.

AMAGASA, T. & NAKAYAMA, T. (2013). Relationship between long working hours and depression: A 3-year longitudinal study of clerical workers. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 55(8), pp. 863-872.

ANGRAVE, D., CHARLWOOD, A., & WOODEN, M. (2015). Long working hours and physical activity. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 69(8), pp. 738-744.

ANGRAVE, D., & CHARLWOOD, A. (2015). What is the relationship between long working hours, over-employment, under-employment and the subjective well-being of workers? Longitudinal evidence from the UK. Human Relations, 68(9), pp. 1491-1515.

BADRI, M., ALKHAILI, M., ALDHAHERI, H., et al. (2022). Examining the structural effect of working time on well-being: Evidence from Abu Dhabi. Social Sciences & Humanities Open, 6(1), 100317.

BADRI, M., ALNUAIMI, A., YANG, G., et al. (2018). The effects of home and school on children’s happiness: A structural equation model. International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy, 12, 17.

BARCK-HOLST, P., NILSONNE, A., ÅKERSTEDT, T., & HELLGREN, C. (2022). Reduced working hours and work-life balance. Nordic Social Work Research, 12(4), pp. 450-463.

BERG, P., KALLEBERG, A. L., & APPELBAUM, E. (2003). Balancing work and family: The role of high commitment environments. Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 42(2), pp. 168-188.

BLANCH, A. (2016). Social support as a mediator between job control and psychological strain. Social Science & Medicine, 157, pp. 148-155.

BOOTH, A. L., & VAN OURS, J. C. (2008). Job satisfaction and family happiness: The part-time work puzzle. The Economic Journal, 118(526), pp. 77-99.

BOSTOCK, B. (2021). The UAE is moving to a 4.5-day week to boost productivity and improve work-life balance. Business Insider.

CARUSO, C. C. (2014). Negative impacts of shiftwork and long work hours. Rehabilitation Nursing, 39(1), pp. 16-25.

D’SOUZA, R., STRAZDINS, L., LIM, L., et al. (2003). Work and health in a contemporary society: Demands, control, and insecurity. Journal of Epidemiological and Community Health, 57, pp. 849-854.

DE LANGE, H., TARIS, W., KOMPIER, A. J., et al. (2004). The relationships between work characteristics and mental health: Examining normal, reversed and reciprocal relationships in a 4-wave study. Work and Stress, 18, pp. 149-166.

DINH, H., STRAZDINS, L., & WELSH, J. (2017). Hour-glass ceilings: Work-hour thresholds, gendered health inequities. Social Science and Medicine, 176, pp. 42-51.

EARLY CHILDHOOD AUTHORITY. (2022). The parent-friendly label. Retrieved on August 10, 2023 from

EDENRED. (2023). UAE laws: What you should know about overtime. Retrieved on August 12, 2023 from,salary%20for%20their%20overtime%20work

ERDOGAN, B., BAUER, T. N., TRUXILLO, D. M., & MANSFELD, L. R. (2012). Whistle while you work: A review of the life satisfaction literature. Journal of Management, 38(4), pp. 1038-1083.

GOLDEN, L., & WIENS-TUERS, B. (2006). To your happiness? Extra hours of labor supply and worker well-being. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 35(2), pp. 382-397.

GRAY, M., QU, L., STANTON, D., & WESTON, R. (2004). Long work hours and the well-being of fathers and their families. Australian Journal of Labour Economics, 7(2), pp. 255-273.

GREENHAUS, J. H., & POWELL, G. N. (2006). When work and family are allies: A theory of work-family enrichment. Academy of Management Review, 31(1), pp. 72-92.

GRÖNLUND, A. (2007). More control, less conflict? Job demand-control, gender and work-family conflict. Gender, Work & Organization, 14(5), pp. 476-497.

HAMPLOVÁ, D. (2019). Does work make mothers happy? Journal of Happiness Studies, 20, pp. 471-497.

HEAPHY, E. D., & DUTTON, J. E. (2008). Positive social interactions and the human body at work: Linking organizations and physiology. Academy of Management Review, 33, pp. 137-162.

HOLLY, S., & MOHNEN, A. (2012). Impact of working hours on work-life balance. SOEPpapers, 465. German Socio-Economic Panel Study, DIW Berlin. Retrieved on August 15, 2023 from

HSU, Y.-Y., BAI, C.-H., YANG, C.-M., et al. (2019). Long hours’ effects on work-life balance and satisfaction. BioMed Research International, 5046934,

JUNEJA, H., & MALHOTRA, M. (2016). Exploring the relationship and impact of working hours on work-family conflict and social support among doctors. International Journal of Science and Research, 5(9), pp. 1583-1588.

KAIN, J., & JEX, S. (2010). Karasek’s (1979) job demands-control model: A summary of current issues and recommendations for future research. In PERREWÉ, P. L. & GANSTER, D. C. (Ed.) New developments in theoretical and conceptual approaches to job stress (pp. 237-268). Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley.

KARASEK, R., & THEORELL, T. (1990). Healthy work: Stress, productivity, and the reconstruction of working life. New York: Basic Books.

KASHEF, M. (2022). The building blocks of walkability: Pedestrian activity in Abu Dhabi city center. Frontiers of Architectural Research, 11(2), pp. 203-223.

KATTENBACH, R., DEMEROUTI, E., & NACHREINER, F. (2010). Flexible working times: Effects on employees’ exhaustion, work-nonwork conflict and job performance. Career Development International, 15(3), pp. 279-295.

KELLY, L., MOEN, P., & TRANBY, E. (2011). Changing workplaces to reduce work-family conflict: Schedule control in a white-collar organization. American Sociological Review, 76, pp. 1-26.

KNABE, A., & RÄTZEL, S. (2010). Income, happiness, and the disutility of labor. Economic Letters, 107, pp. 77-79.

LOVE, P. E., IRANI, Z., STANDING, C., & THEMISTOCLEOUS, M. (2007). Influence of job demands, job control and social support on information systems professionals’ psychological well‐being. International Journal of Manpower, 28(6), pp. 513-528.

MAJOR, V. S., KLEIN, K. J., & EHRHART, M. G. (2002). Work time, work interference with family, and psychological distress. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, pp. 427-436.

MOEN, P., KELLY, L., & HILL, R. (2011). Does enhancing work-time control and flexibility reduce turnover? A naturally-occurring experiment. Social Problems, 58, pp. 69-98.

MUNTANER, C., & O'CAMPO, P. J. (1993). A critical appraisal of the demand/control model of the psychosocial work environment: Epistemological, social, behavioral and class considerations. Social Science & Medicine, 36(11), pp. 1509-1517.

NAHUM-SHANI, I., & BAMBERGER, P. A. (2009). Work hours, retirement and supportive relations among older adults. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(1), pp. 1-25.

NASHAR, K. (2023). QCC adopts Abu Dhabi technical specifications for active workplaces. WAM.

NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research). (2008). The effect of hours of work on social interaction. NBER Working Paper. Retrieved on July 30, 2023 from

NEW ZEALAND DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. (2008). Working long hours in New Zealand. Retrieved on 10 March 2015 from

OKULICZ-KOZARYN, A. (2011). Europeans work to live and Americans live to work (who is happy to work more: Americans or Europeans? Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(2), pp. 225-243.

POUWELS, B., SIEGERS, J., & VLASBLOM, J. D. (2008). Income, working hours, and happiness. Economics Letters, 99(1), pp. 72-74.

RAU, R. & TRIEMER, A. (2004). Overtime in relation to blood pressure and mood during work, leisure, and night time. Social Indicators Research, 67, pp. 51-73.

RUDOLF, R. (2014). Work shorter, be happier? Longitudinal evidence from the Korean five-day working policy. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15, pp. 1139-1163.

SARGENT, L. D., & TERRY, D. J. (2000). The moderating role of social support in Karasek’s job strain model. Work & Stress, 14(3), pp. 245-261.

SATO, K., HAYASHINO, Y., YAMAZAKI, S., et al. (2012). Headache prevalence and long working hours: The role of physical inactivity. Public Health, 126(7), pp. 587-593.

SCHNEIDER, A., HOMMEL, G., & BLETTNER, M. (2010). Linear regression analysis: Part 14 of a series on evaluation of scientific publications. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 107(44), pp. 776-782.

SCHNEIDER, S., & BECKER, S. (2005). Prevalence of physical activity among the working population and correlation with work-related factors: Results from the First German National Health Survey. Journal of Occupational Health, 47, pp. 414-423. doi:10.1539/joh.47.414

SCHREURS, B., VAN EMMERIK, H., NOTELAERS, G., & DE WITTE, H. (2010). Job insecurity and employee health: The buffering potential of job control and job self-efficacy. Work & Stress, 24(1), pp. 56-72.

SCHRÖDER, M. (2018). How working hours influence the life satisfaction of childless men and women, fathers and mothers in Germany. Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 47(1), pp. 65-82.

SCHRÖDER, M. (2020). Men lose life satisfaction with fewer hours in employment: Mothers do not profit from longer employment - Evidence from eight panels. Social Indicators Research, 152, pp. 317-334.

STANSFELD, S. & CANDY, B. (2006). Psychosocial work environment and mental health- A meta-analytic review. Scandinavian Journal of Workplace and Environmental Health, 32, pp. 443-462.

THEORELL, T. (2020). The demand control support work stress model. In THEORELL, T. (Ed.) Handbook of socioeconomic determinants of occupational health: From macro-level to micro-level evidence (pp. 339-353), Springer.

THOMAS, T., & GANSTER, C. (1995). Impact of family-supportive work variables on work-family conflict and strain: A control perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80, pp. 6-15.

WAGDI, O., & SAYED, S. (2023). An analytical study of the work environment in industrial companies: Evidence from Arab countries. Cogent Social Sciences, 9(1), 2175489.

WILLIAMS, J. C., BERDAHL, J. L., & VANDELLO, J. A. (2016). Beyond work-life “integration”. Annual Review of Psychology, 67(1), pp. 515-539.

WU, W. (2016). Impact of hours worked on occupational well-being: An empirical analysis based on three typical occupations. China Industrial Economy, 3, pp. 130-145 (in Chinese).


  • There are currently no refbacks.