Recovery opportunities

Recovery after regular work efforts cannot be postponed. It generally needs to be done on a daily basis (Demerouti et al., 2009) in order for the individual to be well rested when they return to work.

An individual’s opportunity for autonomy in connection with the actual working day also plays an important role in recovery (van Veldhoven, 2008) in the form of Recovery opportunities. Recovery opportunities relate to interruptions of work, breaks, working hours, work schedule and holidays, and are associated with the work shift and the “boundary” between the work shift and free time. Researchers in the Netherlands have been able to show how Recover opportunities are linked to a lower Need for Recovery after work (van Veldhoven et al, 2009). Wentz & Gyllensten (2015) also showed how good Recovery opportunities are linked to a lower Need for Recovery after work. Wentz & Gyllensten (2015) also found that high work demands had a significant link to fewer Recovery opportunities.

The recovery process both during the work shift and between shifts is dependent on access to several different opportunities for recovery. At the same time, Recovery opportunities have proven to be one of the most important factors for recovery from the exertion of the work tasks. (Meijman and Mulder 1998). Recovery opportunities can also be called internal recovery, while recovery between work shifts is called external recovery.

Recovery opportunities instrument

The Recovery opportunities instrument (van Veldhoven et al., 2009) (Figure 1) registers the total effect of several different Recovery opportunities linked to the working day. When the scale was translated from Dutch to Swedish, its homogeneity was tested on 145 individuals, at which time it showed good homogeneity/reliability with Chronbach’s alpha = 0.803. For further psychometric properties, please see the report (Wentz and Gyllensten, 2015). For calculations of limit values, refer to the Analysis and calculations section of “Rapport från Arbets- och miljömedicin nr 158. Utprovning av gränsvärden för Snabbtest Behov av återhämtning efter arbetet version 1 utveckling av ett webbinstrument.” The report can be downloaded from

Recovery opportunities

Rate your recovery opportunities, marking each question with an X

  • Can you interrupt your work if you find it necessary to do so?
  • Can you determine yourself the beginning and the end of your working day?
  • Can you decide yourself when you take a break?
  • Can you take holidays when it suits you?
  • Can you take a day off when it suits you?
  • Can you be obliged to work on a holiday day?
  • Are your working hours and free days arranged well?
  • Do you have the possibility of working hours which suit the particular requirements of your private life?
  • Is your private life adversely affected by irregular working hours?

The nine questions related to Recovery Opportunities are answered in the web tool with four answer choices and a scale of 0–3 points, where the corresponding answer choices are Never, Sometimes, Usually and Always. Point calculation is reversed for questions 6 and 9.


Discuss with your colleagues, your safety representative and your manager how you can reduce any unhealthy impact from work. The measures that should be chosen depend on what conditions make the work mentally stressful.


Meijman TF, Mulder G (1998) Psychological aspects of workload. In: Drenth PJD, Thierry H (eds) Handbook of work and organizational psychology, vol 2. Psychology Press, Hove, pp 5–33

Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., Geurts, S. A., & Taris, T. W. (2009). Daily recovery from work-related effort during non-work time. In Current perspectives on job-stress recovery (pp. 85-123). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

van Veldhoven, Marc JPM, and Judith K. Sluiter. (2009) “Work-related recovery opportunities: testing scale properties and validity in relation to health.” International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 82.9 (2009): 1065-1075.

Van Veldhoven M. Need for Recovery after Work. (2008) An overview of construct, measurement and research. In (Eds Houdmont J & Leka S) Occupational Health Psychology Nottingham University Press, 3-28.

Wentz K, Gyllensten K. Utprovning och anpassning till svenska förhållanden av två återhämtnings-instrument. Report 153. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg.

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