OBJECTIVES: This study aims to assess the heterogeneity of psychosocial working conditions of young workers by identifying subgroups of work characteristic configurations within young workers and to assess these subgroups' associations with emotional exhaustion. DESIGN: Latent class analysis. Groups were formed based on 12 work characteristics (8 job demands and 4 job resources), educational level and sex. Differences in emotional exhaustion between subgroups were analysed using analysis of variance and post hoc comparisons. SETTING: Data from the 2019 wave of the Netherlands Working Conditions Survey. PARTICIPANTS: 7301 individuals between the age of 18 and 30 years, who worked more than 16 hours per week. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Emotional exhaustion. RESULTS: Five subgroups of work characteristics could be identified and were labelled as: (1) 'low-complexity work' (24.4%), (2) 'office work' (32.3%), (3) 'manual and non-interpersonal work' (12.4%), (4) 'non-manual and interpersonal work' (21.0%), and (5) 'manual and interpersonal work' (9.9%). Mean scores for emotional exhaustion in the two interpersonal work groups (M=3.11, SD=1.4; M=3.45, SD=1.6) were significantly higher than in the first three groups (M=2.05, SD=1.1; M=1.98, SD=1.0; M=2.05, SD=1.1) (all 95% CIs excluding 0). Further, mean scores for emotional exhaustion were significantly higher in the 'manual and interpersonal work' group than in the 'non-manual and interpersonal work' group (95% CI 0.24, 0.45). All results could be replicated in the 2017 and 2021 waves of the Netherlands Working Conditions Survey. CONCLUSIONS: Young workers reported heterogeneous work characteristic configurations with substantial differences in degrees of emotional exhaustion between the identified subgroups. Preventing emotional exhaustion should focus on the two interpersonal work subgroups, which showed a high degree of emotional exhaustion. In prevention efforts, these groups' configurations of work characteristics should be taken into account.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere074386
Pages (from-to)e074386
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2023


  • mental health
  • occupational & industrial medicine
  • primary prevention

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