Research Portal

July 1, 2022

Workforce Development: Understanding Task-Level Job Demands-Resources, Burnout, and Performance in Unskilled Construction Workers

Lee, Wonil; Migliaccio, Giovanni C.; Lin, Ken-Yu; Seto, Edmund Y. W. (2020). Workforce Development: Understanding Task-Level Job Demands-Resources, Burnout, and Performance in Unskilled Construction Workers. Safety Science, 123.

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This study examines how task demands and personal resources affect unskilled construction worker productivity and safety performance. It extends the job demands-resources (JD-R) burnout model to show how job characteristics interact with burnout to influence performance. A modified model was designed to measure burnout, with exhaustion and disengagement among unskilled construction workers taken into consideration. An observational study was conducted in a laboratory environment to test the research hypotheses and assess the prediction accuracies of outcome constructs. Twenty-two subjects participated in multiple experiments designed to expose them to varying levels of task-demands and to record their personal resources as they performed common construction material-handling tasks. Specifically, both surveys and physiological measurements using wearable sensors were used to operationalize the model constructs. Moreover, partial least squares structural equation modeling was applied to analyze data collected at the task and individual levels. Exhaustion and disengagement exhibited different relationships with productivity and safety performance outcomes as measured by unit rate productivity and ergonomic behavior, respectively. Subjects with high burnout and high engagement showed high productivity but low safety performance. Thus, exhausted workers stand a greater chance of failing to comply with safety. As the sample and the task performed in the experiment do not cover the experience and trade of all construction workers, our findings are limited in their application to entry-level and unskilled workers, whose work is mainly manual material-handling tasks.


Construction Workers; Structural Equation Modeling; Job Descriptions; Labor Productivity; Labor Supply; Burnout; Job Demand-resources Model; Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling; Productivity; Safety; Wearable Sensors; Biomechanics; Construction Industry; Ergonomics; Occupational Health; Occupational Safety; Occupational Stress; Personnel; Statistical Analysis; Workforce Development; Understanding Task-level Job Demands-resources; Unskilled Construction Workers; Task Demands; Personal Resources; Unskilled Construction Worker Productivity; Job Demands-resources Burnout Model; Job Characteristics Interact; Exhaustion; Disengagement; Outcome Constructs; Varying Levels; Task-demands; Common Construction Material-handling Tasks; Physiological Measurements; Model Constructs; Individual Levels; Unit Rate Productivity; High Burnout; Low Safety Performance; Exhausted Workers; Entry-level; Unskilled Workers; Manual Material-handling Tasks; Heart-rate-variability; Labor Productivity Trends; Physiological Demands; Emotional Exhaustion; Safety Climate; Role Stress; Engagement; Fatigue; Workload; Task Analysis; Workforce; Level (quantity); Construction Materials; Personnel Management; Materials Handling; Multivariate Statistical Analysis