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The present study examined the moderating role of job resources, namely, organizational trust, the quality of employees’ relationship with their manager, and the motivating potential of jobs, on the negative relationship between work engagement and voluntary absence. Employee survey results and absence records collected from the Human Resources department of a construction and consultancy organization in the United Kingdom (n = 325) showed that work engagement was negatively related to voluntary absence, as measured by the Bradford Factor. Furthermore, the results showed that organizational trust and the quality of employees’ relationships with their line managers ameliorated the negative effect of relatively low levels of engagement on voluntary absence. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.
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Work engagement and voluntary absence: The moderating role of job
Amanda Shantz
and Kerstin Alfes
IÉSEG School of Management, Université Catholique de Lille, Paris, France
Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
The present study examined the moderating role of job resources, namely, organizational trust, the quality of employees
relationship with their manager, and the motivating potential of jobs, on the negative relationship between work engagement
and voluntary absence. Employee survey results and absence records collected from the Human Resources department of a
construction and consultancy organization in the United Kingdom (n= 325) showed that work engagement was negatively
related to voluntary absence, as measured by the Bradford Factor. Furthermore, the results showed that organizational trust and
the quality of employeesrelationships with their line managers ameliorated the negative effect of relatively low levels of
engagement on voluntary absence. Theoretical and practical implications of the ndings are discussed.
Keywords: Engagement; Voluntary absence; Organizational trust; Leader-member exchange; Motivating potential score.
Research has produced staggering estimates of the cost
of employee absenteeism to organizations. For instance,
the cost of absence amounts to 12.1% of total annual
payroll expenses in Canada (Towers Watson, 2012), $74
billion annually in the United States (Conlin, 2007), and
approximately £600 per employee each year in the
United Kingdom (CIPD, 2010). Aside from the direct
cost implications of employee absenteeism for organiza-
tions, it also has indirect costs. For instance, absent
employees may jeopardize the completion of a project,
miss out on opportunities with clients or customers, and/
or detract from the effectiveness of others at work
(Sagie, Birati, & Tziner, 2002).
Although research has identied that a potential anti-
dote to absence is work engagement (e.g., Schaufeli,
Bakker, & Van Rhenen, 2009; Soane et al., 2013), no
research, to our knowledge, has analysed factors that
may inuence this relationship. The main contribution
of the present study lies in the building of theoretical
arguments and an empirical examination of job resources
that moderate the relationship between engagement and
absence. Specically, we argue that work engagement
and job resources produce a multiplicative effect such
that when employees experience high levels of both,
employee absenteeism is lowest. For employees who
are relatively disengaged, we argue that job resources
buffer the negative effect of low levels of engagement on
absence. In other words, when engagement is relatively
low, job resources may produce a compensatory effect,
causing absence levels to be lower than if engagement
and the job resource were both absent.
Although absence is a complex phenomenon involving
the interplay among societal, workplace, and personal
factors (e.g., Dekkers-Sánchez, Hoving, Sluiter, &
Frings-Dresen, 2008), absence can be classied as either
involuntary or voluntary. In other words, employees are
absent because they are either unable (involuntary
absence) or unwilling (voluntary absence) to attend
work (e.g., Chadwick-Jones, Nicholson, & Brown,
1982; Johns, 1997; Schaufeli et al., 2009).
In most studies, voluntary absence is measured as
absence frequency (i.e., the number of absence episodes)
and involuntary absence is measured as absence duration
(i.e., the number of days absent). Although some
research nds support for this dichotomy (e.g., Bakker,
Demerouti, de Boer, & Schaufeli, 2003; Chadwick-Jones
et al., 1982; Schaufeli et al., 2009), researchersagree-
ment about the measurement of voluntary absence is not
unanimous; some argue that equating absence frequency
Correspondence should be addressed to Amanda Shantz, IÉSEG School of Management, Socle de la Grande Arche, 1 Parvis de la Défense, 92044
Paris, France. E-mail:
European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 2015
Vol. 24, No. 4, 530543,
© 2014 Taylor & Francis
with voluntary absence is articial and misleading (e.g.,
Farrell & Stamm, 1988; Shapira-Lishchinsky &
Rosenblatt, 2009; ten Brummelhuis, ter Hoeven, de
Jong, & Peper, 2013). Moreover, the results of meta-
analyses (Farrell & Stamm, 1988; Hackett & Guion,
1985; Scott & Taylor, 1985) do not provide a strong
case for treating absence frequency as a measure of
voluntary absenteeism.
Some scholars have suggested that measures of
absence duration and frequency are intertwined
(Harvey & Nicholson, 1999; ten Brummelhuis et al.,
2013) and that rather than forming two distinct cate-
gories, the duration/frequency typology represents a con-
tinuum of degrees of voluntary employee absence
(Brooke, 1986). Hence, it is more useful to use a mea-
sure of voluntary absence that emphasizes frequency of
absence, but also incorporates its duration.
In the present study, we used the Bradford Factor
because it takes into consideration both the number of
incidences and the duration of each incident to compute
an absence score for each employee. In other words, the
Bradford Factor measures an employees irregularity of
attendance and is calculated as (number of absence epi-
× number of days absent. For example, one
absence episode of 10 days in duration equals 10 points;
10 absence episodes of 1 day each equal 1,000 points.
This formula emphasizes the frequency with which
absence spells occur, but it does not ignore the duration
of the absence episodes. Hence, it allows a more holistic
snapshot of an individuals absenteeism and is therefore
a suitable way to capture voluntary absence caused by a
lack of motivation (Taylor, 2008).
Absenteeism and work engagement
Employee engagement is a promising antecedent of
voluntary workplace attendance because it is central to
an energetic and motivational work-related process (e.g.,
Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Engagement is dened as a
positive, fullling work-related state of mind character-
ized by vigor, dedication and absorption(Schaufeli,
Salanova, Gonzalez-Roma, & Bakker, 2002, p. 20).
Engaged employees exert a high level of energy and
persist in the face of difculties (vigour); they are highly
involved in work and thereby experience a sense of pride
and enthusiasm for it (dedication), and they are fully
focused on work so that time appears to pass by quickly
Engagement is likely to be inversely related to absen-
teeism for a number of reasons. First, Johns (1997)
argued that voluntary, as opposed to involuntary
absence, is best explained by models that focus on psy-
chological job attitudes, such as engagement. Second,
engaged employees are self-determined to accomplish
tasks despite perceived obstacles. In the face of setbacks
at work, engaged employees are less likely to be volun-
tarily absent, and instead, they relish in challenges
presented to them at work. Third, engaged employees
nd their work stimulating, which draws them to spend
more time at work. Finally, being engrossed in ones
work also contributes to lower voluntary absence rates,
as employees who are fully absorbed in work experience
ow, that is, they nd their work intrinsically enjoyable
and difcult to detach from (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).
Three published studies, to our knowledge, have
examined the relationship between engagement and
absence. The results revealed that engagement is nega-
tively related to company-registered number of absence
days (absence duration) for support service workers in
the United Kingdom (Soane et al., 2013), self-report
absence days (absence duration) of coworkers of a
Dutch police organization (ten Brummelhuis, Bakker,
& Euwema, 2010) and the number of company-regis-
tered absence episodes (absence frequency) and absence
days (absence duration) of telecom managers in the
Netherlands (Schaufeli et al., 2009). In the present
study, we test the hypothesis that engagement is inver-
sely related to company-registered absence using the
Bradford Factor to compute voluntary absence:
Hypothesis 1: Engagement is negatively related to
voluntary absence.
Job resources refer to physical, social or organizational
aspects of the job that reduce the physiological or psy-
chological costs of job demands; are functional in
achieving work goals and/or stimulate personal growth
and learning (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Demerouti,
Nachreiner, Baker, & Schaufeli, 2001). Resources are
important in their own right (Hackman & Oldham,
1975,1976) and also as a means to achieve and protect
other valued resources (Hobfoll, 1989). In the present
study, we examine organizational trust (an organization-
level resource), employeesrelationships with their lea-
der (an interpersonal-level resource) and the motivating
potential of jobs (a task-level resource) as job resources
(Bakker & Demerouti, 2007).
These three job resources were chosen for two rea-
sons. First, they have theoretical and empirical ties with
absenteeism (e.g., Colquitt, Scott, & LePine, 2007; Fried
& Ferris, 1987; van Dierendonck, Le Blanc, & van
Breukelen, 2002). Second, Kahn (1990) suggested that
elements of ones work environment, such as organiza-
tional trust, leadership and task characteristics, are rele-
vant in understanding how engagement unfolds at work.
He implied that features of the work environment set
boundaries on the extent to which engagement is likely
to be fully expressed at work. Specically, he stated that
when work situations are clear, consistent and predict-
able (i.e., high levels of organizational trust), when man-
agement is supportive and clarifying (e.g., high-quality
manageremployee relationships), and when work tasks
are organized such that employees have autonomy and
variety in their work (e.g., high levels of motivational
job design), employees feel safe and able to fully express
their engagement at work.
Organizational trust
Organizational trust refers to employee perceptions of
the employers integrity, motives, openness and beha-
vioural consistency (Dirks & Ferrin, 2001; Robinson &
Rousseau, 1994). Organizational trust, as a job resource,
is functional in achieving work goals, because it
increases an employees willingness to take risks and
increases employeesidentication with the organization
(Edwards & Cable, 2009). Trust in the organization also
encourages employees to share knowledge amongst each
other (McEvily, Perrone, & Zaheer, 2003), thereby sti-
mulating personal growth and learning.
Leadermember exchange (LMX) refers to the quality
of the relationship between a subordinate and his/her
leader. A high-quality LMX relationship is character-
ized by reciprocal trust, respect and the expectation of a
future positive relationship, whereas a low-quality rela-
tionship is characterized by just the opposite; it is based
solely on the fullment of the employment contract
(Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). Employees in high-quality
relationships receive increased communication, better
roles, have higher levels of emotional support and
greater access to organizational resources, compared
to those in lower-quality LMX relationships (Dienesch
&Liden,1986; Graen & Scandura, 1987;Wayne,
Shore, & Liden, 1997). Hence, a high-quality LMX
relationship is a job resource because it helps employ-
ees achieve important work goals, provides a support
mechanism to defend against job demands and spurs
employee development.
Job design
The third moderator under consideration is the motivat-
ing potential of jobs. Hackman and Oldham (1975)
proposed that ve job characteristics have the potential
to intrinsically motivate employees: task variety, task
identity, task signicance, autonomy and feedback from
the job. An overall motivating potential score (MPS) is
typically calculated from the core job dimensions. That
MPS is considered a job resource is consistent with
Hackman and Oldhams(1980) contention that task
characteristics are motivational, assist in achieving
work goals and facilitate jobholderslearning and
Research has shown that both engagement and job
resources are negatively related to absenteeism (e.g.,
Bakker et al., 2003; Schaufeli et al., 2009; Soane et al.,
2013). Despite this, the two variables have seldom been
considered concomitantly in a study on absenteeism. In
fact, only one study has simultaneously examined
engagement and job resources on absenteeism.
Schaufeli et al. (2009) found that increases in job
resources predicted work engagement, and engagement
was negatively related to absence duration and fre-
quency. This study, however, did not consider an inter-
action between engagement and job resources on
absenteeism. Although job resources have typically
been studied as antecedents of work engagement (e.g.,
Bakker & Demerouti, 2007), an inuential review of the
absence literature suggested that absence is likely most
strongly inuenced by combinations (interactions) of
variables (Johns, 1997). Ignoring the potential interac-
tion between engagement and job resources on absence
may be limiting, since there are good conceptual reasons
to posit that an interaction might take place.
There are at least three theoretical frameworks that
support the contention that absence is lowest for those
who are highly engaged and have access to job
resources. First, conservation of resources (COR; e.g.,
Hobfoll, 1989,2011) theory suggests that organizational
trust, LMX and MPS are job resources. Gorgievski-
Duijvesteijn and Hobfoll (2008) added that engagement
is an intrinsic energetic resourceand that resources
operate synergistically to produce in employees an
even greater ability to overcome obstacles, perform at
higher levels and maintain a healthy sense of well-being.
They theorized that there is a potential for an interaction
(i.e., moderation) between individual resources, such as
engagement, and job resources.
Second, according to Broaden and Build Theory
(Fredrickson, 1998,2001), a positive state such as
work engagement has the capacity to broaden an indivi-
duals momentary thought-action repertoire through
expanding the obtainable array of potential thoughts
and action that come to mind (Fredrickson & Branigan,
2005; Wright, 2005). Experiencing the positivity gener-
ated from work engagement may lead individuals to
thrive and ourish. Additional resources may strengthen
this effect (Fredrickson, 1998,2001). In other words,
Fredricksons model suggests that engagement may
interact with job resources because of their complemen-
tary broadening (engagement) and building (job
resources) effects.
Third, Blumberg and Pringle (1982) argued that in
order to understand employee behaviour, it is necessary
to examine not only the employeesability and motiva-
tion but also the opportunity that they have to invest
themselves in their work. Employees have an
opportunity to invest themselves in work if they have
adequate resources (e.g., high trust in the organization,
high-quality LMX relationship and an enriched job).
Importantly in the present discussion, they stressed that
motivation (i.e., engagement) and opportunity (i.e., job
resources) are not only additive, but they also interact,
such that those with the highest motivation and the most
opportunity are most likely to achieve the highest level
of performance. In the same way, employees who are
engaged are less absent in their role when they are
provided with a resource-laden environment (e.g., high
trust in their organization, high-quality LMX relationship
and enriched jobs). Taken together, these three theoreti-
cal models imply that job resources and engagement
produce a synergistic effect, such that absence is lowest
when both are high.
Job resources may not only strengthen the negative
relationship between engagement and absence for highly
engaged employees; research on the buffering hypothesis
(Caplan, 1974) suggests that job resources may also play
a buffering role for those who are relatively disengaged
at work. The theory was originally developed to explain
the effect of social support on the outcomes of stress. It
stipulates that support can ameliorate the deleterious
effects of stress on individualshealth and well-being
and that support has little impact on individuals who are
not stressed. Cohen and McKay (1984) elaborated upon
the buffering hypothesis in positing that resources can
buffer the negative consequences of stress if the
resources either provide the person with tangible tools
to overcome the stress, if they assist in cognitive reap-
praisal of the situation, and/or if they provide the person
with positive feedback or a sense of belonging.
The buffering hypothesis (Caplan, 1974) and empiri-
cal evidence supporting it (e.g., Miner, Settles, Pratt-
Hyatt, & Brady, 2012) provide theoretical support for
the interaction between engagement and job resources
specically at low levels of engagement. Research on the
buffering role of job resources on engagement (Bakker,
Hakanen, Demerouti, & Xanthopoulou, 2007), burnout
(Xanthopoulou et al., 2007) and absence frequency
(Demerouti, Bouwman, & Sanz-Vergel, 2011) likewise
support the hypothesis that job resources play a buffering
role. Hence, employees with low levels of engagement
may nevertheless have higher levels of attendance if they
are provided with adequate job resources.
Hypothesis 2: Organizational trust moderates the
negative relationship between engagement and
voluntary absence.
Hypothesis 3: A high-quality LMX relationship
moderates the negative relationship between
engagement and voluntary absence.
Hypothesis 4: High levels of MPS (motivating
potential score) of jobs moderates the negative
relationship between engagement and voluntary
The data for this study were sourced from a construction
and consultancy organization in the United Kingdom.
The organization offers integrated services across the
property and infrastructure life cycle. Their work
involves project management, construction delivery and
facilities management across a number of sectors includ-
ing arts and culture, education, energy and utilities,
hotels and sport, science and technology, and transport.
The organization has a relatively large Human Resources
(HR) department, which serves as an advisor on Human
Resource Management (HRM) issues to line managers.
They also liaise between employees and line
Within the HRM department, there is an Absence
Partner who takes calls from absent employees and
reports them to the absent employees line manager and
project coordinator. The Occupational Health Advisor
periodically reviews absence information and follows
up with employees who are frequently absent via tele-
phone calls. Notwithstanding these efforts, employee
absence has been a growing concern for the HR
Director of the organization, as absence rates have stea-
dily increased from approximately 2.5 days per
employee per year in 2007 to 5.2 days per employee
per year in 2012. The HR Director acknowledged that
although there is little she can do to remedy involuntary
absenteeism (e.g., sickness), she is interested in nding
ways to reduce voluntary absenteeism. Hence, the cur-
rent study was of particular interest to this organization.
Electronic surveys were sent to 671 employees of this
organization. The respondents were encouraged to parti-
cipate in the survey within 2 weeks. All employees were
given time to complete the survey at work. Employees
were informed of the purpose of the data collection (i.e.,
to gather opinions of their work) and its condentiality.
Four hundred and fourteen surveys were completed.
Eighty-nine respondents were excluded due to incom-
plete absence data. These employees worked in overseas
ofces where absence data are not collected by the HR
department. Hence, the response rate was 48%.
Of the 325 remaining participants, 60.6% were male;
the mean age of participants was 40.12 (SD = 11.55); the
proportion of married individuals was 46%.
Approximately 54% of the sample had a university
degree or above, 10% had other higher (e.g., college)
education, 12% had A-levels (preuniversity/college cred-
its) or equivalent, 15% had GCSE (high school diploma)
or equivalent, 7% had other job-related qualications
(e.g., UK National Vocational Qualications include
job-related sector courses, such as Basic Plumbing
Studies or Business Administration) and 2% had no
qualications. Approximately 35% of the respondents
were engineering and construction professionals, 20%
held administrative roles, 24% were managers, 5% held
customer service roles, 2% were general labourers and
the remaining employees indicated other type of work.
Tests were conducted to determine whether there were
signicant differences between the 89 excluded employ-
ees (due to missing absence data) and 325 included
employees in terms of gender, age, marital status, type
of work and education level. All tests were not signi-
cant. Absence records were obtained from the HR
department 4 months subsequent to the completion of
the survey.
Scale reliabilities are found in Table 1. All items for all
scales were scored on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 7
(strongly agree) scale, unless otherwise noted.
Engagement. Engagement was measured using Schaufeli
et al.s(2002) self-report questionnaire consisting of 17
items, which capture the three dimensions of engagement,
namely, vigour (e.g., When I get up in the morning, I feel
like going to work), dedication (e.g., I am enthusiastic about
my job) and absorption (e.g., Time ies when I am work-
ing). The items were scored on a 1 (never) to 7 (always)
scale. A mean score was calculated from the three compo-
nents to reect an overall measure of engagement.
Organizational trust. Robinson and Rousseaus(1994)
scale captures the extent to which employees trust their
organization (e.g., I believe my employer has high
Leadership. The quality of the relationship with ones
leader was measured using the LMX scale developed by
Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995; e.g., My working relation-
ship with my leader is effective).
Job design. Job design was operationalized as a MPS.
The MPS was calculated by taking the average of ve
job characteristics using scales developed by Morgeson
and Humphrey (2006), namely, decision-making auton-
omy (three items, e.g., The job provides me with sig-
nicant autonomy in making decisions), task variety
(four items, e.g., The job requires the performance of a
wide range of tasks), task signicance (four items; e.g.,
The job itself is very signicant and important in the
broader scheme of things), task identity (e.g., four items;
The job is arranged so that I can do an entire piece of
work from beginning to end) and feedback from the job
(three items; e.g., The job itself provides feedback on my
Voluntary absence. The number of recorded absence
episodes and duration over 4 months subsequent to the
completion of the survey were collected from organizational
records. Each participant was assigned a Bradford Factor
score calculated as (number of absence episodes)
number of days absent.
Control variables. Age, gender (female = 1) and
whether an employee managed others (manages
others = 1) were used as control variables in all analyses,
because meta-analyses suggest that they are related to
absence (e.g., Darr & Johns, 2008; Martocchio, 1989).
All of the analyses presented later were conducted twice,
once with and once without control variables. The results
were consistent across the analyses (Becker, 2005).
Hence, we are condent that the inclusion of the control
variables did not alter our main ndings. The results
discussed in the following present the analyses that
include the control variables.
Descriptive statistics and preliminary
SPSS (version 21) was used to calculate the descriptive
statistics and to test the hypotheses. Table 1 presents the
scale reliabilities, means, standard deviations and corre-
lations amongst the variables.
Tests of discriminant validity. As the measures for
engagement, organizational trust, leadership and job
design were collected at one point of time, a series of
conrmatory factor analyses were carried out in AMOS
Descriptive statistics
Alpha Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1. Gender
2. Age 40.12 11.55 .13*
3. Manages others .15** .22**
4. Engagement .91 4.96 .73 .06 .21** .28**
5. MPS .81 5.15 .99 .05 .01 .21** .57**
6. Leadership .94 5.17 1.30 .02 .01 .10 .27** .31**
7. Trust .97 4.80 1.31 .10 .01 .17** .44** .48** .52**
8. Absence 1.39 4.65 .01 .02 .01 .19** .13* .11* .16**
*p< .05, **p< .01; female = 1, male = 0; manages others = 1, does not manage others = 0.
(version 21) to assess the discriminant validity of the
measures. A full measurement model was initially tested,
in which the three facets of engagement loaded onto a
general engagement factor, the ve facets of job design
loaded onto a general MPS factor and all indicators for
organizational trust and leadership were allowed to load
onto their respective factors. All factors were allowed to
correlate. Five t indices were calculated to determine
how the model tted the data (Hair, Black, Babin, &
Anderson, 2009). For the χ
/df, values less than 2.5
indicate a good t and values around 5.0 an acceptable
t (Arbuckle, 2006). For the Comparative Fit Index
(CFI) and TuckerLewis coefcient (TLI), values
above .90 are recommended as an indication of good
model t (Bentler, 1990; Bentler & Bonett, 1980). For
the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation
(RMSEA) and Standardized Root Mean Square
Residual (SRMR), values less than .06 indicate a good
model t and values less than .08 an acceptable t
(Browne & Cudeck, 1993; Hu & Bentler, 1998). The
four-factor model showed a good model t(χ
= 592;
df = 202; CFI = .93; TLI = .92; RMSEA = .077;
SRMR = .055). All factor loadings were above the
suggested threshold of .5 (between .63 and .95) and
signicant at the p< .001 level. Next, sequential χ
difference tests were carried out. Specically, the full
measurement model was compared to six alternative
nested models, as shown in Table 2. Three models (A,
B and C) were created to assess the distinctiveness of the
independent variable from each moderator variable.
Model D was created to assess the distinctiveness of
trust and LMX, given the possibility that employee rat-
ings of these constructs are affected by halo error, such
that employees who provide a high rating to their leader
may also provide a high rating to their organization
because they view their leader as an agent of the orga-
nization. Model E was created to assess whether the
three different job resources were distinct. Finally, a
single-factor model was tested (Model F). Results of
the measurement model comparison revealed that the
model t of the alternative models was signicantly
worse compared to the full measurement model (all at
p< .001). This suggests that the variables in this study
are distinct.
Moreover, we carried out a number of tests to ensure
that each hierarchical moderated regression model met
the assumptions of regression (Field, 2013; Stevens,
2002). Relevant test statistics are available by request
from the rst author.
Hypothesis testing
Hypothesis 1 predicted that engagement is negatively
related to absence. The results of a multiple regression
analysis indicated that the model was signicant
(F= 2.76, p< .05, R
= .04), and after controlling for
age, gender and managerial role, engagement was sig-
nicantly and negatively related to absence (β=.21,
SE =.36,t=3.22, p< .01). Hypothesis 1 was
Hierarchical moderated regressions were used to test
the remaining hypotheses. Variables entered into moder-
ated regressions were standardized (Aiken & West,
1991). Table 3 presents the results. In the rst column,
labelled Baseline model, absence was regressed on gen-
der, age and managerial role only. In the column labelled
Moderating role of organizational trust, the rst subcol-
umn shows the results of the main effect model (con-
trols, engagement and organizational trust) and the
second subcolumn shows the moderated regression
model (controls, engagement, organizational trust and
the interaction between engagement and organizational
trust) on absenteeism. The columns that represent the
Fit statistics from measurement model comparison
Models χ
diff dfdiff
Full measurement model 592 (202) .930 .920 .077 .055
Model A
944 (205) .867 .850 .105 .088 352 3***
Model B
1043 (205) .849 .830 .112 .121 451 3***
Model C
698 (205) .911 .900 .086 .065 106 3***
Model D
1923 (205) .690 .651 .161 .131 1331 3***
Model E
2214 (207) .638 .596 .173 .149 1622 5***
Model F
(Harmans Single-Factor Test) 2479 (208) .590 .545 .184 .155 1887 6***
***p< .001; χ
= chi-square discrepancy, df = degrees of freedom; CFI = Comparative Fit Index; TLI = TuckerLewis Coefcient; RMSEA = Root
Mean Square Error of Approximation; SRMR = Standardized Root Mean Square Residual; χ2
diff = difference in chi-square, dfdiff = difference in
degrees of freedom. All models are compared to the full measurement model.
Engagement and organizational trust combined into a single factor.
Engagement and leadership combined into a single factor.
Engagement and motivating potential score combined into a single factor.
Organizational trust and leadership combined into a single factor.
Organizational trust, leadership and motivating potential score combined into a single factor.
All factors combined into a single factor.
moderating role of leadership (LMX) and job design
(MPS) are similarly presented.
The second hypothesis predicted that organizational
trust would moderate the relationship between engage-
ment and absence. The interaction between engagement
and trust was signicant (column 3 of Table 3). The
relationship is plotted in Figure 1.
Figure 1 reveals that employees with relatively low
levels of both trust and engagement showed the highest
level of voluntary absence. Simple slope analyses indi-
cated that at relatively low levels of organizational trust,
engagement was negatively related to absence (β=.25,
SE = .36, t=3.16, p< .05), whereas at relatively high
levels of organizational trust, engagement was not
related to absence (β=.03, SE = .41, t=.29,
p= n.s.). Hypothesis 2 was partially supported.
We also examined whether the end points of trust at
high versus low levels of engagement (see Figure 1)
were different from one another. To do so, we swapped
the independent variable (engagement) and moderator
(trust) and conducted an additional simple slopes test
(Dawson, 2014). The results showed that the slope of
the line at high levels of engagement was not signi-
cantly different from zero (β=.49, SE = .40, t= .23,
p= n.s.), whereas the slope of the line for those with
lower levels of engagement was negative and signi-
cantly different from zero (β=.88, SE = .33,
t=2.66, p< .01). This implies that the two points on
Figure 1 at lower levels of engagement are signicantly
different from one another. Hence, trust makes a differ-
ence at lower levels of engagement.
The second hypothesis predicted that the quality of
the relationship employees have with their leader mod-
erates the negative relationship between engagement and
absence. Column 5 of Table 3 presents the results of this
hierarchical moderated regression. The interaction term
was positive and signicant. The relationship is plotted
in Figure 2.
Hierarchical moderated regressions on employee absenteeism
Moderating role of
organizational trust
Moderating role of
leadership (LMX)
Moderating role of job
design (MPS)
β(SE) β(SE) β(SE) β(SE) β(SE) β(SE) β(SE)
Step 1 Gender .01 (.55)
Age .02 (.03)
Manager .01 (.55)
Step 2 Gender .02 (.57) .01 (.57) .01 (.57)
Age .04 (.03) .05 (.03) .05 (.03)
Manager .05 (.58) .05 (.58) .05 (.59)
Engagement .17 (.32)* .19 (.30)** .19 (.35)*
Trust .10 (.31)
Leadership .07 (.28)
MPS .04 (.34)
Step 3 Gender .01 (.56) .02 (.56) .01 (.55)
Age .04 (.02) .05 (.02) .04 (.02)
Manager .06 (.58) .05 (.58) .06 (.57)
Engagement .15 (.32)* .19 (.29)** .18 (.34)*
Trust .08 (.31) .04 (.28) .06 (.34)
Engage × Trust .13 (.23)*
Engage × LMX .15 (.26)**
Engage × MPS .28 (.23)**
Adj R
) 0 .03** .05* .03** .05** .02** .09**
F.06 2.84** 3.22** 2.60* 3.31** 2.40* 5.56**
The baseline model includes the control variables (gender, age and management responsibilities) only.
The rst subcolumn reports the main effects of controls, engagement and organizational trust on absenteeism; the second column reports the
moderated regression results.
Standardized regression coefcients (standard error).
Indicates whether R
was signicantly improved from previous step.
*p< .05, **p< .01.
Low Trust
High Trust
Low Engagement High Engagement
Figure 1. Organizational trust as a moderator on the relationship
between engagement and absence. Variables are plotted at one standard
deviation above and below the mean.
Simple slope analyses indicated that at relatively
lower-quality LMX relationships, engagement was nega-
tively related to absence (β=.33, SE = .39, t=3.91,
p< .05), whereas when employees had relatively higher-
quality LMX relationships, engagement was not related
to absence (β=.04, SE = .39, t=.42, p= n.s.).
To examine whether there is a signicant difference
between the end points of LMX at high levels of engage-
ment (see Figure 2), we swapped the independent vari-
able (engagement) and moderator (LMX) and conducted
an additional simple slopes test (Dawson, 2014). The
results showed that at lower levels of engagement, the
slope of the line is signicantly different from zero
(β=.81, SE = .34, t=2.38, p< .05). Conversely,
the negative relationship between LMX and absence was
not signicant at high levels of engagement (β=.49,
SE = .39, t= 1.27, p= n.s.). This suggests that the two
points at the far side of Figure 2 are not signicantly
different from one another. Hypothesis 3 was partially
The fourth hypothesis predicted that perceptions of
job design would moderate the negative relationship
between engagement and absence (see column 7 of
Table 3). The interaction term was positive and
Simple slope analyses indicated that for employees
who reported that their jobs contain relatively low levels
of motivating potential, engagement was negatively
related to absence (β=.40, SE = .40, t=4.62,
p< .05), whereas for those who report relatively high
levels of motivating potential in their jobs, engagement
was not related to absence (β=.06, SE = .41, t=.54,
To investigate whether the end points of MPS at high
and low levels of engagement are signicantly different
from one another (see Figure 3), we swapped the inde-
pendent (engagement) and moderator (MPS score) and
conducted a second simple slopes test (Dawson, 2014).
The negative relationship between MPS and absence was
signicantly different from zero for employees with rela-
tively higher levels of engagement (β= .99, SE = .45,
t=2.18 p< .05), but not at lower levels of engagement
(β=.25, SE = .35, t=.72 p= n.s.). This implies that
the end points that represent employees at high levels of
engagement and high versus low levels of MPS are
signicantly different from one another. In summary,
although there was a signicant interaction between
engagement and MPS, the additional analyses suggest
that high levels of MPS do not inuence the relationship
between engagement and absence. This unanticipated
nding is discussed later.
Additional test. In order to further validate our results,
we tested each of our hypotheses using moderated struc-
tural equation modelling (MSEM; Cortina, Chen, &
Dunlap, 2001; Mathieu, Tannenbaum, & Salas, 1992;
ten Brummelhuis, ter Hoeven, Bakker, & Peper, 2011).
The MSEM results and resulting plots mirror those pro-
duced by our hierarchical moderated regression analyses.
The details of the MSEM procedure and results are
available by request from the rst author.
Although the buffering hypothesis (Caplan, 1974) was
originally developed to explain the impact of support on
the outcomes of stress, the theory and its associated
empirical research show a striking similarity with the
pattern of results found in this study, that is, at lower
levels of engagement, organizational trust and LMX
buffered the negative relationship between work engage-
ment and voluntary absence. These ndings caution
against arguments that disengaged employees are neces-
sarily a cost to organizations (Wollard, 2011). Indeed, the
results of the present study show that work engagement
and some job resources compensate for one another.
The results also showed that for relatively highly
engaged employees, job resources did not enhance the
negative relationship between engagement and absentee-
ism. These results come as a surprise given that there are
theoretical arguments to suggest that the relationship
between engagement and absence is strengthened by
resources that help employees achieve work goals, to
cope with work challenges and to develop and grow.
High LMX
Low Engagement High Engagement
Figure 2. Leadership (LMX) as a moderator on the relationship
between engagement and absence. Variables are plotted at one standard
deviation above and below the mean.
High MPS
Figure 3. Motivating Potential Scores (MPS) as a moderator on the
relationship between engagement and absence. Variables are plotted at
one standard deviation above and below the mean.
A potential reason for the nonsignicant nding may
be the positive correlation between work engagement
and the three job resources; highly engaged employees
are more likely to have more resources. A pressing
question is whether this is an empirical or theoretical
issue. Empirically, an interaction may not have surfaced
because of the positive relationship between job
resources and engagement. Hence, there may have been
insufcient power to detect such an interaction, espe-
cially given that this study was conducted in the eld
(Morris, Sherman, & Manseld, 1986). Additionally,
there may be a threshold effect, or restriction of range.
A highly engaged worker may not be intentionally
absent from work at all, or to a very small extent, so
that there is little room for a further decrease in voluntary
absence (Sagie, 1998). McClelland and Judd (1993)
stated that eld studies are problematic because the dis-
tributions of the independent and dependent variables are
commonly restricted by their respective ranges, which is
exacerbated by the multiplication of the interaction term,
reducing the power to detect an interaction. Post hoc
tests of our data conrmed that this might explain our
results; the variance of absence was larger at lower levels
compared to higher levels of engagement.
Theoretically, it may be that job resources do not
interact with engagement at high levels to predict rele-
vant outcomes, such as absence. Although broaden and
build theory has been used to position engagement as a
mediator of the relationship between job resources and
outcomes, we used it to support an interaction between
engagement and job resources. More theory building is
needed to understand the condition(s), if any, under
which high levels of engagement can be strengthened.
Although theory and empirical work on the rst part of
the JD-R model, that is, between job resources and
engagement, is relatively well developed (e.g., Bakker
& Bal, 2010; Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Demerouti, &
Schaufeli, 2009), in comparison, there is little theoretical
development and/or empirical work that have examined
moderators in the subsequent stages of the JD-R model,
that is, between work engagement and its outcomes.
Although we used existing theories to inform our
hypotheses, and some theory and empirical work sug-
gests that psychological states, such as engagement, may
interact with job resources (e.g., Hackman & Oldham,
1976; Johns, Xie, & Fang, 1992), our nonsignicant
results may point researchers to focus on other resources
(e.g., personal resources) that may amplify the relation-
ship between engagement and absence. Alternatively,
future research may examine whether for some types of
jobs (e.g., professional and managerial), job resources
are multiplicative, whereas for other types of jobs (e.g.,
manual), job resources and engagement act as substitutes
for one another.
Additional noteworthy points of discussion stem from
the additional analyses that we conducted for each mod-
eration hypothesis. Specically, we examined whether
the points that represent high and low levels of engage-
ment at high and low levels of the moderator were
signicantly different from one another (Dawson,
2014). The results for trust and LMX lend strength to
the argument that organizational trust and LMX compen-
sate for lower levels of engagement. The results for
MPS, however, paint a more complex picture.
A substantial number of highly engaged employees
had higher rates of voluntary absence when jobs were
high in motivating potential. Although this may seem
counterintuitive, a plausible rationale is that some highly
engaged employees with demanding and challenging
jobs are more likely to need to take time off from work
to recuperate. Macey and Schneider (2008) warned that
there might be limits to the amount of engagement that is
benecial for employees and organizations. Halbesleben,
Harvey, and Bolino (2009) conrmed that too much
engagement is detrimental to employees. They found
that engagement is associated with higher levels of
work interference with family because employees ded-
icate too much of their time to helping others at work.
The results also showed that at low levels of engage-
ment, absenteeism did not vary with MPS. Although it is
plausible that this is a consequence of the high correla-
tion between engagement and MPS, we encourage future
research to take a closer look at the relationship between
lower levels of engagement and perceptions of job
design. The classic Hackman and Oldham model of job
design posits that a condition under which enriched jobs
produce their intended motivational effect is when job-
holders have a desire to grow and develop. The present
results may lend weight to the argument that at lower
levels of engagement, the effect of MPS may be con-
tingent on a third resource, such as growth needs
strength or a similar personal resource.
This nding also questions whether high levels of
motivational job characteristics have uniformly positive
outcomes. There have been some research ndings, like
ours, which suggest that very high levels of MPS may be
detrimental to employees. For instance, research has
revealed that high responsibility (French & Caplan,
1973) and high mental and social demands
(Schaubroeck & Ganster, 1993) are associated with
stress. Research has also found a curvilinear U-shaped
relationship between job scope and emotional exhaus-
tion, such that at very high levels of job scope, employ-
ees become increasingly emotionally exhausted (Xie &
Johns, 1995).
Our ndings therefore call for a reevaluation of
whether job characteristics are best conceived of as a
job resource and/or a job demand. In the case of job
design, there may be an optimal level in which job
characteristics act as a resource, but when the MPS
reaches a certain point, job characteristics may become
a job demand, causing the jobholder to experience stress
and ill health. This has implications for the study of
employee absence, which has tended to focus on the
cause of absence as due to either ill health (i.e., cant
attend work) or motivation (i.e., wont attend work) and
suggests that different factors independently predict each
(e.g., Schaufeli et al., 2009). Task characteristics may in
fact predict both.
Future research should employ longitudinal, diary-
study and/or experimental designs to further investigate
the possibility that very high levels of both engagement
and MPS are detrimental for employees and organiza-
tions. For instance, researchers could follow employees
over time to examine how changes in engagement and
perceptions of job design inuence important organiza-
tional outcomes such as absenteeism and performance.
Field experiments may involve a 2 (engaging work-
related task versus nonengaging work-related task) × 2
(provided with a role with high motivating potential
versus not provided with a role with high motivating
potential) design. For instance, if a sample of engineer-
ing technicians was attained, half could be provided with
an engaging task (e.g., constructing buildings) and the
other half with a less engaging task (e.g., tallying petrol
mileage to and from work sites). Each condition would
then be provided with either very high levels of feedback
from the job or not. Dependent measures may include
quality and quantity of performance, along with mea-
sures of well-being or emotional exhaustion, to tease out
whether there are negative consequences for employees
who have high levels of both engagement and motiva-
tional job design.
In summary, the present study contributes to the exist-
ing literature on both work engagement and absence.
Although the work engagement literature has primarily
conceptualized job resources as antecedents of work
engagement (e.g., Bakker & Demerouti, 2007), we
examined the interaction between job resources and
work engagement on absence. This is because Johns
(1997) suggested that voluntary absence might best be
predicted by interactions among psychological variables.
Whether an interaction would take place between
engagement and job resources on other outcomes, such
as task performance, citizenship behaviours or counter-
productive work behaviours, is a worthy avenue for
future research. So too is research on the effect of other
job resources to determine the extent to which other job
resources are interchangeable with the ones tested in the
present study. Although COR theory suggests that job
resources tend to travel together in resource caravans
(Hobfoll, 2011), future research is yet to conrm whether
some job resources do or do not moderate the effect of
engagement on relevant outcomes. The results of the
present study hint that resources may not always be
interchangeable with one another; MPS did not buffer
the effect of lower levels of engagement on absence like
organizational trust and LMX.
Our study also contributes to the absence literature by
using a relatively under-utilized measure of voluntary
absence, that is, the Bradford Factor. Future research
should consider using the Bradford Factor as a measure
of voluntary absence because it emphasizes the number
of absence spells, while not neglecting absence duration.
Practical implications
The primary practical implication of the present study is
to ensure that employees trust the organization and have
a high-quality relationship with their leader. Regardless
of whether these job resources lead to engagement, or act
as its substitute, ensuring that these job resources are in
place for employees is advantageous for organizations.
In order to engender organizational trust, employers
should implement clearly dened structures, roles and
guidelines with regard to decision-making and employee
conduct to provide direction about acceptable behaviour
at work (Gillespie & Dietz, 2009). Trust can also be
heightened when the organization emphasizes inclusive-
ness, open communication and individuality and
encourages its managers to provide ongoing feedback
to employees (Whitener, Brodt, Korsgaard, & Werner,
1998). Employers may also wish to consider investing in
corporate social responsibility initiatives. Such activities
signal to employees that the organization acts with moral
concern for the well-being of its stakeholders (Aguilera,
Rupp, Williams, & Ganapathi, 2007) and is negatively
related to absenteeism (Shapira-Lishchinsky &
Rosenblatt, 2009).
Organizations should also focus on ensuring that lea-
ders develop high-quality LMX relationships with their
employees. Mayeld and Mayeld (1998) suggested that
the formation of a high-quality LMX relationship begins
at recruitment. At this stage, the leader should provide a
realistic preview of the benets and responsibilities of
the relationship. Once hired, a leader should begin the
LMX process through communicating mutual work
expectations with employees and informing them of
behaviours that will be rewarded. Research has estab-
lished a number of leader behaviours that can improve
LMX relationships, including leading by example,
recognizing subordinates for their successes, consulting
with employees on a variety of work-related matters and
delegating important tasks to employees (Yukl,
O'Donnell, & Taber, 2009). Organizations can also facil-
itate formal training programmes that invite both leaders
and followers and focus on an explanation of the LMX
process and outcomes and LMX communication training
(Mayeld & Mayeld, 1998). Research shows that LMX
relationships improve when leaders and members are
trained accordingly (e.g., Scandura & Graen, 1984).
This study also has practical implications for how HR
managers use engagement scores from annual employee
surveys. Many organizations today compute an engage-
ment index to evaluate their people management prac-
tices. Practitioners should be cautioned against relying
solely on such indices, as employee engagement scores
alone may not tell the full story; even if engagement
scores are relatively low, if employees are provided with
sufcient job resources, their level of absenteeism may
be similar to those who are engaged with their work.
Anal implication of this study is a reminder to
consider the manner in which absence is measured in
organizations. There is some evidence from the practi-
tioner literature that the use of Bradford Factor acts as a
deterrent to employees who take leaves of absence for
nongenuine reasons. A number of organizations have
reported a reduction in absence when Bradford Factor
is introduced, which may be due to the use of the system
as a visible warning signal that voluntary absence is not
tolerated by the organization (IDS, 2007).
Although it is recommended that practitioners use the
Bradford Factor as a measure of absence, it should not
be used in isolation. Instead, practitioners should com-
bine it with employee consultation. This is because not
all employees with high Bradford scores are absent
because of nongenuine reasons. For instance, an
employee who has a child with a chronic illness may
need to take a series of 1-day absences during the year.
This will lead to a relatively high Bradford score, which
may trigger the organizations absence review proce-
dures. If the review is conducted with the initial assump-
tion that the absences are illegitimate, then the employee
may feel unfairly judged by the organization and subse-
quently may become less engaged. It is therefore impor-
tant to suspend judgement until a formal meeting is held
with the employee.
Aside from the measure of absenteeism used in the
current study, the independent and moderating variables
were measured at the same time. Although the study
hypotheses are based on a strong theoretical foundation,
alternative causal ordering is a possibility. Testing the
proposed model using a longitudinal research design
would help address this limitation. In addition, the sam-
ple used in the present study was drawn from one orga-
nization in the United Kingdom, which may limit the
generalizability of the ndings. For instance, Lam,
Schaubroeck, and Aryee (2002) found that the negative
relationship between perceptions of the work environ-
ment and absenteeism was stronger at lower levels of
power distance. Likewise, it may be that our results are
more pronounced in lower power distance cultures.
Additionally, all variables aside from absenteeism
were derived from self-report measures, raising concerns
of common method variance. However, established
recommendations for controlling for the inuence of
common method bias were followed, such as the use of
established scales, guaranteed anonymity and a clear
explanation of procedures (Podsakoff, MacKenzie,
Jeong-Yeon Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003). In addition, the
statistical analyses revealed that common method var-
iance did not wholly explain the associations in the data,
and the variables in the analyses were distinct from one
The use of the Bradford Factor as a measure of
voluntary absence is not without its limitations. For
instance, the weighting of frequency versus duration in
the equation may not necessarily be accurate. Moreover,
the Bradford Factor (like frequency and duration mea-
sures of absence) does not indicate why an employee was
absent from work. Furthermore, an employee may be
genuinely ill periodically for short periods of time due
to chronic medical condition, such as migraines. Such an
employee will have a high Bradford Factor, but it is not
an indication of a lack of motivation.
An additional limitation of the present study is that
we did not assess a mediator of the moderated relation-
ships in order to conduct an empirical test of the theore-
tical explanation for our hypotheses. We encourage
future research to measure positive emotions as a poten-
tial mediator in order to tease out the underlying pro-
cesses of the moderating relationship between
engagement and job resources on outcomes.
Anal limitation is that little variance in absence was
explained by the hypothesized models. However, the R
statistics in the present study are commensurate with
some prior research, notably Soane et al.s(2013) study
of the relationship between meaningfulness, well-being
and engagement on absence duration. Given the compli-
cated nature of identifying moderating relationships in
eld studies, even 1% of incremental variance explained
by an interaction is a signicant nding (Evans, 1985;
McClelland & Judd, 1993). In our study, the interaction
term explained from 2% to 8% of incremental variance
demonstrating the strength of the interactive effect of job
resources and engagement on absence. Nonetheless, an
expanded research model should be developed to con-
tribute to a better understanding of the role of engage-
ment in explaining absence.
The present study examined the moderating role of job
resources on the relationship between engagement and
voluntary absenteeism, as measured by the Bradford
Factor. The results showed that organizational trust and
a high-quality LMX relationship moderated the relation-
ship between engagement and voluntary absence, such
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Revised manuscript accepted June 2014
First published online July 2014
... Researchers have suggested that high levels of work engagement will lead to fewer absences, because highly engaged employees (vs. hardly engaged employees) may be more motivated to attend work and are healthier Shantz & Alfes, 2015). Accordingly, some (albeit few) studies reported negative correlations between work engagement and absenteeism (e.g., Schaufeli et al., 2009;Soane et al., 2013;Ten Brummelhuis et al., 2010). ...
... Previous studies have suggested similar results for both the frequency and duration of absenteeism. Regarding frequency, studies have identified negative correlations between work engagement and the frequency of absence Shantz & Alfes, 2015). Engaged employees might be voluntarily absent less often because they may aim to perform their tasks in a self-determined manner, even under adverse working conditions. ...
... Moreover, engaged workers consider their work stimulating, such that they generally enjoy spending time at work. Further, regarding absorption, engaged employees tend to lose track of time while working and are intrinsically motivated to perform their tasks, resulting in lower absence rates (Shantz & Alfes, 2015). ...
Both researchers and practitioners agree that having highly engaged employees results in individuals and organizations reaping various positive consequences related to performance and absenteeism. However, available research syntheses date from the early years of this line of research, thus cover only a small fraction (under 10%) of the available studies. The present meta-analysis updates the results of work engagement and its three facets (vigour, dedication, and absorption) on task performance and includes a substantial number of studies on absenteeism with separate analyses of longitudinal studies. A total of 179 unique correlations representing an overall sample size of N = 139,182 was examined, confirming and enhancing a positive association between work engagement and task performance (ρ = .483) and a negative association between work engagement and absenteeism (ρ = −.171). The three facets of engagement had similar effects on performance, but only vigour and dedication correlated significantly negatively with absenteeism. Work engagement is linked positively to future task performance and negatively to future absenteeism. The influence of several methodical moderators is examined. Finally, we discuss how these findings can inform research and practice in order to contribute to a more effective and healthy work environment for employees.
... Consequently, when faced with setbacks, vigorous employees are less likely to be absent (Schaufeli et al., 2009). Indeed, there is widespread evidence that job engagement, a motivational construct consisting of a joint experience of vigor, dedication and absorption, is negatively related to absenteeism (e.g., Schaufeli et al., 2009;Shantz & Alfes, 2015;Soane et al., 2013). However, little is known about the influence of RLMX on absenteeism, and the role of vigor in these relationships. ...
... The present study also contributes to the literature on vigor by examining its implications for absenteeism. Consistent with previous work linking engagement and absenteeism that has used the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (e.g., Schaufeli et al., 2009;Shantz & Alfes, 2015;Soane et al., 2013), our results show that employees who reported being vigorous were less absent at work. Indeed, this study is among the first to provide evidence that the feeling of vigor is negatively related to the duration of absenteeism. ...
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This study examines how, why and when relative leader–member exchange (RLMX) influences absenteeism through the mediating effect of feelings of vigor, and the moderating role of unit-level leader–member exchange differentiation (LMX differentiation). Data collected from a Swiss retailer sample of 486 employees within 52 stores shows that RLMX is positively related to feelings of vigor, whereas feelings of vigor are negatively related to absenteeism. Also, RLMX has a stronger positive effect on vigor when LMX differentiation in the unit is high, and on absenteeism when differentiation in the unit is low. However, we found no evidence that the indirect influence of RLMX on absenteeism through feelings of vigor is moderated by unit-level LMX differentiation. The implications of these findings for research on LMX are discussed.
... Absorption means an employee's involvement in the jobs to the extent that he or she loses track of time (Bakker et al., 2008;Del Líbano et al., 2012). Employee engagement positively relates to several outcomes, for example, distributive, and interactional justice (Alvi & Abbasi, 2012), organisational commitment (Lin et al., 2019), employee intrapreneurial behaviour, and personal resources (Gawke et al., 2017), and negatively relates to employee turnover intention (Malik & Khalid, 2016), voluntary absence (Shantz & Alfes, 2014), and diversity-oriented HR practices (Luu et al., 2019). ...
... As highly engaged employees are more willing to devote time and effort to their work roles (Bakker et al., 2011) and possess a stronger motivation to deal with job demands (Weigl et al., 2010), they are less likely to withdraw from work by reporting themselves sick and taking a day off Shantz & Alfes, 2015) or use sickness absence as a form of coping behavior to escape from unfavorable working conditions (Kristensen, 1991). The above discussion leads us to contend that older employees, compared to their younger counterparts, are more engaged at work, which in turn makes them less likely to take sickness absence. ...
Full-text available
Workforces are aging rapidly and older workers are typically assumed to take more sickness absence. However, the relationship between age and sickness absence is not well understood, as research has yielded mixed findings and has neglected broader societal factors that cascade to shape the age-sickness absence relationship. To advance the literature, we adopted a resource-based perspective and investigated the relationship between employee age and sickness absence as mediated by two countervailing mechanisms: physical health issues and work engagement. We also highlighted two country-level boundary conditions (health expenditure per capita and labor force participation rate) for these mechanisms. We tested our hypotheses with two archival datasets. In Study 1, using a sample of 28,553 employees from 35 European countries, we tested a multilevel model and found that age was positively related to the number of physical health issues, which in turn was positively associated with sickness absence. Country-level health expenditure per capita was found to mitigate this relationship. We also found that age was positively related to work engagement, which was negatively related to sickness absence, and country-level labor force participation rate strengthened this relationship. In Study 2, using a multi-wave dataset (N = 304) from the Health and Retirement Study in the United States, we found further support for the two hypothesized mechanisms (physical health issues and work engagement) between age and sickness absence. Our findings have cross-national implications for understanding and managing sickness absence by helping workers stay healthier and be more engaged in the context of population aging. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... Absorption means an employee's involvement in the jobs to the extent that he or she loses track of time (Bakker et al., 2008;Del Líbano et al., 2012). Employee engagement positively relates to several outcomes, for example, distributive, and interactional justice (Alvi & Abbasi, 2012), organisational commitment (Lin et al., 2019), employee intrapreneurial behaviour, and personal resources (Gawke et al., 2017), and negatively relates to employee turnover intention (Malik & Khalid, 2016), voluntary absence (Shantz & Alfes, 2014), and diversity-oriented HR practices (Luu et al., 2019). ...
Full-text available
The purpose of the study is to examine the effect of perceived supervisor support on the relationship between ethical leadership and employee engagement through organisational commitment in eastern culture. The study uses survey data from 389 employees of information technology sector in Pakistan. To study the relationship between the variables, linear regression, and Preacher & Hayes (2004) PROCESS techniques are used. The results of the study show that ethical leadership relates to employee engagement and organisational commitment. Organisational commitment mediates the relationship between ethical leadership and employee engagement. Perceived supervisor support moderates the relationship such that when perceived supervisor support is high, the effect of ethical leadership on employee engagement through organisational commitment is stronger. The results show that the positive perception of the supervisor complements the effect of ethical leadership on employee engagement through organisational commitment. Ethical leadership contributes towards the development and sustenance of organisational commitment and engagement among the employees. Drawing on social exchange theory, this study contributes to the organisational behaviour literature by studying the complementing effect of perceived supervisor support on the relationship between ethical leadership and employee engagement. An area that needs due attention.
... These high-quality social interactions are likely to amplify the broaden-and-build process that is impelled by meaningfulness because they create space for positive socio-emotional experiences (Fredrickson, 2001;Shantz & Alfes, 2015). In contrast, when LMX is low, leaders signal less interest in their employees' voice, thereby decreasing the latter's perceived chances that their voice will be effective to affect change. ...
Meaningfulness of work has been heralded as one of the most important drivers of individual and organizational outcomes. However, the extent to which this critical psychological state manifests itself in the workplace and contributes to positive job performance is not yet fully understood. In this article, we draw from broaden‐and‐build theory to suggest that meaningfulness enhances employees' promotive voice behaviors, which in turn are positively related to job performance ratings by their leaders. We also suggest that leader–member relationships strengthen this mediational process. An analysis of survey data of 249 employees with matched lagged performance appraisal data supported our hypotheses. This study is important because it demonstrates that meaningfulness is not only associated with positive attitudinal responses and individual well‐being, but also holds value for organizations in that it fosters desirable workplace behaviors such as job performance.
... Hutchison et al. (1986) suggested that when schools focus on strong morality, school teachers respond by refraining from voluntary absences. Shantz and Alfes (2015) showed that work engagement is negatively related to voluntary absence, and that organizational trust and the quality of employees' relationships with their line managers ameliorate the negative effect of relatively low levels of engagement on voluntary absence. In another study, Shapira-Lishchinsky (2013) found that teachers' voluntary absence is negatively related to a caring climate, representing intrinsic ethical motivation factors. ...
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Purpose The study aims to test an innovative model that explores the direct and indirect relationships between principals' innovative behavior, climate of organizational learning and a teacher's intent to leave his or her school and take a voluntary absence. Design/methodology/approach Data were collected from a survey of 1,529 teachers from 107 Arab elementary schools randomly selected from the database of the Israeli educational system. To test the proposed multilevel model, we conducted multilevel structural equation modeling (ML-SEM). Findings The analysis confirmed that organizational learning climate is a prominent mediator between principals' innovative behavior and a teacher's intent to leave and his/her voluntary absence. Originality/value This research advances our understanding of leaders' innovative construct in an educational context and adds to the body of research directed at identifying administrative support and work-related factors that may negatively relate to a teacher's absenteeism or intent to leave and are amenable to leadership intervention.
... In addition to this reasoning, it is necessary to pay attention to the unique features of work engagement, distinct from burnout. More specifically, because engaged employees are more energetic, enthusiastic, and engrossed in their work, they tend to find their work intrinsically interesting, to feel self-determined to accomplish tasks, and to revel in challenges imposed on them at work [32]. Furthermore, they tend to maintain good mental health without experiencing distress or depression [17], which would help them stay in their organizations and not intend to leave. ...
Full-text available
Retaining proactive employees with the potential to be high performers is recognized as an essential condition for an organization’s survival and prosperity. However, few studies have logically explained and empirically clarified the link between proactive personality, which represents a distal proactive tendency, and turnover intention to predict actual turnover behavior. With the research objective to address these research gaps, we expected that work engagement as a proximal motivational mechanism was likely to mediate the relationship between proactive personality and turnover intention, and that job autonomy as a critical job context was likely to moderate the relationship between proactive personality and work engagement. We developed a moderated mediation model incorporating these expectations. The results of the survey conducted on employees working for mid-sized manufacturing firms in Korea were consistent with our expectations. The findings of this study help uncover the intentions of turnover exhibited by proactive employees.
This study aims to identify how the access to training and development opportunities influence rates of work engagement in the U.S. federal workforce. Organizations with high rates of work engagement tend to be happier and more efficient than those with lower rates of work engagement. Studies have evidenced that organizational and managerial characteristics can promote work engagement among employees. Through the lens of high-performance work systems and the job demands-resource theory, access to training and development is used as both a high-performance work practice and a job resource to explore its effect on work engagement. Data were drawn from the 2017 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, a nationally representative sample of U.S. federal employees. By employing ordinary least squares analyses, this study shows that there is a positive correlation between having access to training and development opportunities and higher rates of work engagement across the federal workforce.
Keterikatan kerja merupakan keadaan pikiran dan perasaan (state of mind) terkait dengan pekerjaan yang bersifat positif ditandai dengan adanya semangat (vigor), pengabdian (dedication), dan penyerapan (absorption). Salah satu cara untuk meningkatkan keterikatan kerja karyawan adalah dengan menumbuhkan kebermaknaan (meaningful work) di tempat kerja. Studi korelasi antara keterikatan kerja dan kebermaknaan kerja sudah cukup banyak dilakukan, namun memil iki hasil yang bervariasi. Studi metaanalisis ini dilakukan untuk mengkaji hasil penelitian yang telah dilakukan peneliti di bidang organisasi dan bertujuan untuk mengetahui apakah kebermaknaan kerja dan keterikatan kerja secara konsisten berkaitan. Hasil metaanalisis terhadap 30 studi dengan total subjek sebanyak 11,794 menunjukkan bahwa kebermaknaan kerja berkorelasi positif dengan keterikatan kerja dengan nilai korelasi sebesar .475 setelah kesalahan sampling terkoreksi dan r = .562 setelah koreksi kesalahan pengukuran. Kata Kunci: kebermaknaan kerja, keterikatan kerja, metaanalisis Meaningful Work and Work Engagement: A Meta-Analysis Study Abstract. Work engagement is a state of mind associated with positive work that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption. One of the ways to increase employee work engagement is by growing meaningfulness at work. The correlation studies between work engagement and meaningful work have been done quite a lot, but have varied results. This meta-analysis study was applied to examine the results of research that have been conducted by researchers in the field of organization and aims to find out whether meaningful work and work engagement are consistently related. The results of a meta-analysis of 30 studies with a total of 11,794 subjects showed that meaningful work was positively correlated with work engagement with a correlation value of .475 after corrected sampling error and r = .562 after correction of measurement error. Keywords: meaningful work, meta-analysis, work engagement Article History: Received 25 February 2020 Revised 30 May 2020 Accepted 30 May 2020
Existing theory fails to provide strong and consistent prediction of individual job performance. This paper argues that the failure stems from a neglect of an important dimension of performance—the opportunity to perform—and the interaction of opportunity with known correlates of performance. A three dimensional interactive model of work performance is proposed; suggestions for future research and for managerial practice are offered.
In this book chapter we have outlined a comprehensive framework of burnout and job-engagement based on COR theory, for the first time placing emphasis on job-engagement. We defined burnout and job-engagement as multifaceted phenomena revolving around intrinsic energy resources, or vigor. Cognitive and behavioral inclinations, such as behavioral inhibition versus approach orientation, are considered to be close co-travelers. Burnout results from a slow, stressful process of resource bleed out that is not counterbalanced by resource gains, thus accumulating to significant losses. We proposed that job-engagement is the resultant of the inverted process of real or anticipated resource gains. Gains become significant if they feed into peoples’ primary resources, which are essential for survival or relate to basic needs, but they must also support peoples’ psychological resources of sense of efficacy, self-esteem, and sense of success. COR theory emphasizes that changes in resource levels are the principle axis by which burnout and job-engagement process are activated and sustained, or inhibited and curtailed. This means that, no matter how excellent ones’ performance, just staying the course without generating further gains is not expected to be very engaging. In such cases, people need to take investment risks in order to initiate further positive changes. Based in this idea we have proposed a new framework for boosting engagement at work based on general principles of COR theory, called striving for dynamic stability and tolerance for failure. The starting point for this framework is creativity and innovativeness as key to job-engagement. The building blocks are flexibility, balance, diversity, interdependence, loyalty, trust and tolerance for failure. We emphasize that these building blocks are important resources on both individual and environmental level, that need to fit together in order to activate and sustain engagement processes. Synergy between individuals, teams and the organization needs to be emphasized where possible, which keeps the focus on strengths and resource gain. Hopefully our framework provides an impetus for extending current job-engagement research towards original dynamic multi-level investigations.
Following a review of literature on the leader-member exchange model of leadership, the model's methodological and theoretical problems are discussed. First, it is argued that leader-member exchange is a multidimensional construct and should be measured accordingly. Second, it is noted that the leader-member exchange developmental process has not been fully explicated. In addressing these problems, a three dimensional conceptualization of the leader-member exchange construct is proposed and a model of the leader-member exchange developmental process is presented.
Interest in the problem of method biases has a long history in the behavioral sciences. Despite this, a comprehensive summary of the potential sources of method biases and how to control for them does not exist. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to examine the extent to which method biases influence behavioral research results, identify potential sources of method biases, discuss the cognitive processes through which method biases influence responses to measures, evaluate the many different procedural and statistical techniques that can be used to control method biases, and provide recommendations for how to select appropriate procedural and statistical remedies for different types of research settings.
This study began with the premise that people can use varying degrees of their selves. physically. cognitively. and emotionally. in work role performances. which has implications for both their work and experi­ ences. Two qualitative. theory-generating studies of summer camp counselors and members of an architecture firm were conducted to explore the conditions at work in which people personally engage. or express and employ their personal selves. and disengage. or withdraw and defend their personal selves. This article describes and illustrates three psychological conditions-meaningfulness. safety. and availabil­ ity-and their individual and contextual sources. These psychological conditions are linked to existing theoretical concepts. and directions for future research are described. People occupy roles at work; they are the occupants of the houses that roles provide. These events are relatively well understood; researchers have focused on "role sending" and "receiving" (Katz & Kahn. 1978). role sets (Merton. 1957). role taking and socialization (Van Maanen. 1976), and on how people and their roles shape each other (Graen. 1976). Researchers have given less attention to how people occupy roles to varying degrees-to how fully they are psychologically present during particular moments of role performances. People can use varying degrees of their selves. physically, cognitively, and emotionally. in the roles they perform. even as they main­ tain the integrity of the boundaries between who they are and the roles they occupy. Presumably, the more people draw on their selves to perform their roles within those boundaries. the more stirring are their performances and the more content they are with the fit of the costumes they don. The research reported here was designed to generate a theoretical frame­ work within which to understand these "self-in-role" processes and to sug­ gest directions for future research. My specific concern was the moments in which people bring themselves into or remove themselves from particular task behaviors, My guiding assumption was that people are constantly bring­ ing in and leaving out various depths of their selves during the course of The guidance and support of David Berg, Richard Hackman, and Seymour Sarason in the research described here are gratefully acknowledged. I also greatly appreciated the personal engagements of this journal's two anonymous reviewers in their roles, as well as the comments on an earlier draft of Tim Hall, Kathy Kram, and Vicky Parker.