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Are Anxious Workers Less Productive Workers? It Depends on the Quality of Social Exchange

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In this article, we draw from Conservation of Resources Theory to advance and test a framework which predicts that emotional exhaustion plays an explanatory role underlying the relation between workplace anxiety and job performance. Further, we draw from social exchange theories to predict that leader-member exchange and coworker exchange will mitigate the harmful effects of anxiety on job performance. Findings across a 3-wave study of police officers supported our model. Emotional exhaustion mediated the link between workplace anxiety and job performance, over and above the effect of cognitive interference. Further, coworker exchange mitigated the positive relation between anxiety and emotional exhaustion, while leader-member exchange mitigated the negative relation between emotional exhaustion and job performance. This study elucidates the effects of workplace anxiety on resource depletion via emotional exhaustion and highlights the value of drawing on social resources to offset the potentially harmful effects of workplace anxiety on job performance. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Are Anxious Workers Less Productive Workers?
It Depends on the Quality of Social Exchange
Julie M. McCarthy and John P. Trougakos
University of Toronto–Scarborough
Bonnie Hayden Cheng
Hong Kong Polytechnic University
In this article, we draw from Conservation of Resources Theory to advance and test a framework which
predicts that emotional exhaustion plays an explanatory role underlying the relation between workplace
anxiety and job performance. Further, we draw from social exchange theories to predict that leader–
member exchange and coworker exchange will mitigate the harmful effects of anxiety on job perfor-
mance. Findings across a 3-wave study of police officers supported our model. Emotional exhaustion
mediated the link between workplace anxiety and job performance, over and above the effect of cognitive
interference. Further, coworker exchange mitigated the positive relation between anxiety and emotional
exhaustion, while leader–member exchange mitigated the negative relation between emotional exhaus-
tion and job performance. This study elucidates the effects of workplace anxiety on resource depletion
via emotional exhaustion and highlights the value of drawing on social resources to offset the potentially
harmful effects of workplace anxiety on job performance.
Keywords: workplace anxiety, emotional exhaustion, job performance, social exchange, cognitive
interference
Workplace anxiety has been estimated to cost the U.S. economy
over $40 billion annually (Kessler & Greenberg, 2002). This is a
serious concern, because recent surveys suggest that 41% of work-
ers report elevated levels of workplace tension (American Psycho-
logical Association, 2012), and anxiety-related absences are on
average four times longer than other nonfatal illnesses or injuries
(Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2001). Although employees vary in
their propensity to experience workplace anxiety, there is also
evidence that it is on the rise (D’Mello, 2012;Twenge, 2000).
This is troublesome from the perspective of employees, because
it may contribute to the increased separation between work and
family life (Schieman, McBrier, & van Gundy, 2003) and higher
levels of job dissatisfaction (Boyd, Lewin, & Sager, 2009). This is
also troublesome from the organization’s perspective, because
high levels of anxiety have negative implications for ethical be-
havior (Kouchaki & Desai, 2015), organizational effectiveness
(Boyd et al., 2009), and economic success (Forsyth, Kelly, Fusé, &
Karekla, 2004). Importantly, anxiety also has potentially detrimen-
tal consequences for employees and organizations in the form of
reduced job performance (Ford, Cerasoli, Higgins, & Decesare,
2011). Given that job performance is one of the outcomes that
organizations and employees care most about (Motowidlo, 2003),
consideration of the role of workplace anxiety in the context of job
performance is crucial and serves as the first step in developing
strategies to mitigate its potentially negative effects.
Considering the significant role that anxiety can play in em-
ployee attitudes and behaviors, as well as the detrimental conse-
quences associated with anxiety, it is not surprising that there are
a large number of empirical articles on anxiety and stress in
occupational health journals (e.g., Fay & Sonnentag, 2002;Ford et
al., 2011;Gomes, Faria, & Gonçalves, 2013). Despite this work,
research exploring the link between workplace anxiety and overall
job performance has been limited. Research in this domain has
largely examined the relations between general anxiety levels and
performance on specific tasks, such as performance on selection
tests (e.g., Proost, Derous, Schreurs, Hagtvet, & De Witte, 2008),
job interviews (McCarthy & Goffin, 2004), and school-based
examinations (e.g., Seipp, 1991). This work draws from cognitive
interference theories, providing evidence that high levels of anxi-
ety interfere with the ability to process task-related information,
which results in reduced levels of performance (Eysenck, Derak-
shan, Santos, & Calvo, 2007). While cognitive interference is a
viable mechanism for explaining the anxiety–performance relation
on specific tasks, we suggest that it is not the only mechanism
underlying the relation between workplace anxiety and job perfor-
mance.
Drawing from Conservation of Resources Theory (COR; Hob-
foll, 1989), we propose that a key explanatory mechanism for the
relation between workplace anxiety and job performance is emo-
This article was published Online First August 10, 2015.
Julie M. McCarthy and John P. Trougakos, Department of Management,
Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto–Scarborough; Bon-
nie Hayden Cheng, Department of Management and Marketing, Hong
Kong Polytechnic University.
This research was supported, in part, by research grants from the Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awarded to Julie
McCarthy (#410-2011-0313, #435-2015-0220) and John Trougakos (#410-
2008-0505, #435-2014-0693). We thank Sunjeev Prakash for his invalu-
able support with this project and Kathleen Boies for her helpful comments
on an earlier version of this article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Julie M.
McCarthy, Department of Management, University of Toronto, 1265 Mil-
itary Trail, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada M1C 1A4. E-mail: julie.mccarthy
@utoronto.ca
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Journal of Applied Psychology © 2015 American Psychological Association
2016, Vol. 101, No. 2, 279–291 0021-9010/16/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/apl0000044
279
tional exhaustion. This is because typical levels of job performance
require the execution of multiple tasks over sustained periods of
time. As such, high levels of job performance are dependent on the
protection and facilitation of cognitive and personal resources.
When employees experience high levels of workplace anxiety,
these resources are depleted, resulting in emotional exhaustion,
and ultimately reduced levels of job performance.
Given the consequences of workplace anxiety, an examination
of factors that may serve to buffer its negative effects is also
crucial. In the current study, we consider social exchange relation-
ships as a critical moderator of the relation between workplace
anxiety and job performance. The nature of people’s workplace
exchange relationships has been shown to provide resources that
can aid in improving employees’ work outcomes (Cohen & Wills,
1985;Ng & Sorensen, 2008). By bringing together research on
workplace exchange relationships with that on workplace anxiety,
we provide employees and organizations with insight into potential
buffers of the negative consequences of anxiety on job perfor-
mance.
Our study makes a contribution to the existing research in a
number of ways. To begin, we draw from past theory and research
to develop a conceptual framework that delineates the mechanisms
by which workplace anxiety has an effect on performance. In
doing so, we integrate insights from several literatures and assess
the extent to which emotional exhaustion and cognitive interfer-
ence mediate the relation between workplace anxiety and work-
place effectiveness. Positioning emotional exhaustion as a mech-
anism is fundamentally different from past interference models
that have been used to explain anxiety–performance relations.
Providing conceptual clarification of this issue is valuable, because
it has theoretical relevance for models of workplace anxiety, as
well as practical relevance for treating the implications of work-
place anxiety.
We further contribute to the literature by examining moderators
of the workplace anxiety–job performance association, specifically
examining the exchange relationship employees have with their
supervisors, in the form of leader–member exchange (LMX), and
the exchange relationship employees have with their colleagues, in
the form of coworker exchange (CWX). Past work has focused on
organization or policy-based solutions (e.g., telecommuting, flex
time) to help individuals minimize work anxiety and stress (Ko-
ssek, Baltes, & Matthews, 2011). However, policy-based solutions
often fail to achieve desired results (Nielsen, Taris, & Cox, 2010).
We integrate COR (Hobfoll, 1989) to focus on personal-based
resources that employees can leverage to reduce the potentially
harmful effects of workplace anxiety. In doing so, we respond to
calls for theory-based predictions about the differential effects of
supervisor and coworker support (e.g., Ng & Sorensen, 2008). In
the following section, we detail the theoretical rationale for our
model and outline our hypotheses.
Workplace Anxiety
Workplace anxiety is conceptualized as feelings of nervousness
and apprehension about the accomplishment of job tasks (cf.,
Eysenck et al., 2007;Muschalla & Linden, 2012;Zeidner &
Matthews, 2005). It is a domain-specific construct that is affected
by both individual differences and workplace characteristics (cf.,
Ganster & Schaubroeck, 1991;Motowidlo, Packard, & Manning,
1986;Spielberger, 1972). As such, it represents a stress response
in the form of a strain symptom (Beehr, 1995;Jex, 1998).
Workplace anxiety is subsumed under the broader construct of
performance anxiety, which reflects feelings of apprehension
about the execution of specific tasks, including job interviews
(McCarthy & Goffin, 2004), selection tests (Proost et al., 2008),
school-based examinations (Cohen, Ben-Zur, & Rosenfeld, 2008),
artistic performances (van Kemenade, van Son, & van Heesch,
1995), and sports competitions (Kleine, 1990). However, while the
general construct of performance anxiety is well grounded in past
research, the consequences of dealing with workplace anxiety have
not been fully explored.
Workplace anxiety is conceptually and empirically related to
other types of anxiety and related affective constructs, but is not
redundant with these constructs. It is distinct from state-based
anxiety because in contrast to a transient situation-specific trait, it
reflects general feelings of work-related anxiety that manifest over
time (Spielberger, 1972). It differs from general trait anxiety
because workplace anxiety reflects an evaluative-based anxiety
that is workplace specific (Zeidner & Matthews, 2005). Our def-
inition also distinguishes workplace anxiety from neuroticism,
because anxiety is only one of the six components underlying
neuroticism (McCrae & Costa, 1987), and neuroticism is not
workplace specific.
Emotional Exhaustion and the Workplace Anxiety–Job
Performance Relation
The few empirical investigations that have examined anxiety in
the workplace have generally found a negative association be-
tween anxiety and job performance (Ford et al., 2011). These
studies are informative, but have yet to consider the mechanism
underlying observed relations. There are, however, several studies
examining the mechanism between anxiety and specific task-based
performance, such as testing situations and sports competitions.
Meta-analytic reviews of these studies suggest that, consistent with
the relation between anxiety and job performance, the relation
between performance-based anxiety and subsequent task perfor-
mance is negative (e.g., Bourhis & Allen, 1992;Kleine, 1990;
Seipp, 1991). Importantly, studies of anxiety and performance
focus on cognitive interference as the primary explanatory factor
for the observed negative relations. A number of theories are
subsumed under the rubric of cognitive interference, including the
following: processing efficiency (Eysenck & Calvo, 1992), atten-
tional control (Eysenck et al., 2007), and interference (Wine,
1980). Common to each of these theories is the proposition that
anxiety interferes with people’s ability to process immediate
events, resulting in lower performance. There is considerable sup-
port for the role of cognitive interference as it relates to a number
of specific tasks, such as performance anxiety and selection test
scores (McCarthy, Hrabluik, & Jelley, 2009), exam grades (Sara-
son, 1984), sports outcomes (Wilson & Smith, 2007), and music
success (Wan & Huon, 2005).
It is not surprising that in specific situations, cognitive interfer-
ence mediates the relations between anxiety and the corresponding
performance outcome. These situations are characterized by high
levels of state-based anxiety and high levels of maximum perfor-
mance because they represent evaluative contexts that require
intense effort over relatively short periods of time (Campbell,
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280 MCCARTHY, TROUGAKOS, AND CHENG
1990). Further, consistent with the definition of maximum perfor-
mance derived by Sackett, Zedeck, and Fogli (1988), in these
situations individuals are aware they are being evaluated, they are
trying to maximize their performance, and their performance is
measured after a relatively short duration of time. Given that high
levels of concentration and focus are required, it is not unexpected
that cognitive interference has been found to draw individuals’
attention away from the task at hand, resulting in lower levels of
task performance (Eysenck et al., 2007).
In contrast, typical performance (i.e., overall job performance)
is characterized by employee behavior under more routine condi-
tions and is elicited in contexts requiring sustained effort over
extended periods of time, such as the day-to-day performance of
job duties (Campbell, 1990;Sackett et al., 1988). In fact, in most
occupations, a considerable portion of the daily work employees
engage in likely becomes routine over time. Overall job perfor-
mance thus encompasses numerous types of tasks that require
varying degrees of cognitive resources, as well as a host of other
personal resources, including energy, effort, and persistence (Beal,
Weiss, Barros, & MacDermid, 2005;Trougakos & Hideg, 2009).
Overall job performance is an aggregate of the expected organi-
zational value of employees’ behavior over time (Motowidlo,
2003), and the day-to-day performance of most jobs requires the
execution of multiple work tasks over an extended time period
(Beal et al., 2005). Thus, while cognitive interference may be the
primary mechanism driving performance in highly specific situa-
tions that trigger momentary anxiety, experiencing continually
elevated workplace anxiety in relation to performing a job over
time is less likely to be explained by cognitive interference alone.
In line with Ajzen and Fishbein’s (1977) principle of compatibil-
ity, which highlights the importance of matching predictors to
relevant outcomes, we suggest that the underlying process driving
the relation between workplace anxiety and job performance is
emotional exhaustion.
COR theory provides an excellent framework for detailing the
process leading to, and the consequences of, emotional exhaustion.
COR theory holds that individuals strive to protect and build
resources such as time and energy (Hobfoll, 1989). Conserving
these resources is important, because resource drain can lead to
increased levels of emotional exhaustion (Maslach, Schaufeli, &
Leiter, 2001). Importantly, COR also aligns with the extended, or
aggregate, effects that workplace anxiety may have on employees.
Specifically, COR has a “long-term” emphasis, focusing on the
depletion of resources over time (Hobfoll, 1989). In fact, a key
premise of COR theory, as well as other research specifically
focusing on emotional exhaustion, is that the continual depletion of
personal resources, such as energy and focus, will result in burnout
symptoms such as emotional exhaustion (Richardsen, Burke, &
Leiter, 1992). Moreover, COR theory holds that “ongoing work
demands consistently deplete resources at a faster rate than re-
sources can be replenished” (Freedy & Hobfoll, 1994, p. 312).
Anxious workers, by their very nature, are at a greater disadvan-
tage in this regard given their tendency to use up resources wor-
rying about task-related issues and to engage in self-critical
thoughts regarding their abilities (Sarason, 1984).
In line with these propositions, prior organizational research has
found emotional exhaustion to be caused by negative antecedents
such as stress (Garrosa, Moreno-Jiménez, Rodríguez-Muñoz, &
Rodríguez-Carvajal, 2011), effortful emotion regulation (Goldberg
& Grandey, 2007), and general negative affectivity (Thoresen,
Kaplan, Barsky, Warren, & de Chermont, 2003). In turn, high
levels of emotional exhaustion prompt employees to distance
themselves, or withdraw from their work, resulting in lower levels
of performance (Cropanzano, Rupp, & Byrne, 2003). This is
primarily because of the considerable toll that emotional exhaus-
tion has on individuals’ motivation to perform effectively (Hal-
besleben & Bowler, 2007). Similarly, emotional labor research
links emotional exhaustion to more workplace errors (Goldberg &
Grandey, 2007) and reduced service quality (Grandey, 2003).
The current study moves beyond past models of cognitive
interference as the underlying process linking workplace anxiety
and performance. Specifically, workplace anxiety’s impact on
employees’ job performance is likely to be influenced by emo-
tional exhaustion above and beyond the effects of cognitive inter-
ference. We propose the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1: Emotional exhaustion will mediate the relation
between workplace anxiety and job performance when ac-
counting for cognitive interference.
The Role of Social Exchange Resources
as Moderators
COR theory also provides insights into factors that might buffer
the negative relation between workplace anxiety and performance.
According to COR theory, in order to mitigate the effects associ-
ated with resource loss, people “call on resources available to them
from the environment” (Hobfoll, 1989, p. 517). One such resource,
social support, may be especially critical (Hobfoll, 1989,2001).
Social support can act to offset resource drain and its correspond-
ing negative consequences in many ways, such as broadening
one’s pool of available resources (Hobfoll, 1989), promoting pos-
itive coping skills (Dunahoo, Hobfoll, Monnier, Hulsizer, & John-
son, 1998), and reducing work task demands (Ray & Miller, 1994).
Combined, these social support functions serve to replenish the
resource pool, resulting in “positive gain spirals” (Hobfoll, 1989,
p. 470). In turn, positive spirals may offset the effects of emotional
exhaustion, promoting better performance (Hakanen, Perhoniemi,
& Toppinen-Tanner, 2008).
Social support is particularly important in work contexts. Indi-
viduals with whom employees interact can provide both material
and socioemotional resources that can aid employees in their daily
work activities (Ng & Sorensen, 2008). However, few studies have
examined whether social support can mitigate the potentially
harmful effects of anxiety on workplace performance (cf., Kamdar
& Van Dyne, 2007). We extend COR theory to consider two
fundamental work-related sources of social exchange support—the
support employees receive from their fellow employees (CWX;
Sherony & Green, 2002), and the support employees receive from
their supervisors (LMX; Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995).
These relations are critical sources of social support because
coworkers and supervisors are ideally placed to provide employees
socioemotional and material resources (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995;
Sherony & Green, 2002). Indeed, high-quality social exchange
relations are associated with high levels of trust, honesty and
encouragement (e.g., Graen & Scandura, 1987;Sherony & Green,
2002). Thus, we predict that employees with high CWX and LMX
draw upon the socioemotional and material support received from
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281
ARE ANXIOUS WORKERS LESS PRODUCTIVE?
peers and supervisors to replenish their resources and aid their
performance when experiencing anxiety-induced emotional ex-
haustion.
Further, drawing on Ajzen and Fishbein’s (1977) principle of
compatibility, we suggest that CWX and LMX will play differen-
tial roles in buffering the anxiety– exhaustion–job performance
link. Ajzen and Fishbein (1977) detail the importance of matching
predictors to relevant outcomes and in doing so highlight the value
of considering the fundamental differences between CWX and
LMX. In particular, CWX relations are more likely to be relational
(interpersonal) in nature (Karasek, Triantis, & Chaudhry, 1982;
Wu & Hu, 2009), whereas LMX relations are more likely to be
subject to power differentials and thus more transactional (eco-
nomic) in nature (Ng & Sorensen, 2008;Sakurai & Jex, 2012). As
such, we suggest that the moderating effects of these relationships
are likely to be most impactful at different stages in the process.
The moderating role of CWX. The relationship between
coworkers is qualitatively distinct from that between employees
and their supervisors (Chiaburu & Harrison, 2008). Employees
often possess significantly less power with respect to supervisors,
but relatively equal levels of power with respect to coworkers
(Diefendorff & Greguras, 2009). In addition, unlike roles formal
leaders occupy, the roles coworkers occupy rarely involve perfor-
mance monitoring. As a consequence, relations between employ-
ees and coworkers center more on social reciprocity and trust
(Cole, Schaninger, & Harris, 2002), while relations between su-
pervisors and employees center more on economic transactions
and authority (Karasek et al., 1982). This line of reasoning is
supported by traditional models of the employment relationship,
which are generally grounded on economic or transactional ex-
changes between employee and employer (LMX) and the exis-
tence of social or relational exchanges between employee and
coworker (CWX). It is also consistent with Social Exchange The-
ory (Blau, 1964), which focuses on the perceived obligations that
exist in the exchange relationship between two parties. These
obligations can create two types of relations—an economic ex-
change that is based on materialistic resources, or a social ex-
change that is based on trust and reciprocity (Blau, 1964).
While these exchange relations can cross, such that employees
can have social exchanges with supervisors and economic ex-
changes with coworkers, authentic social exchanges of a more
intimate and personal nature are more likely to arise between
coworkers. This occurs for two main reasons. First, employees are
more likely to use impression management tactics and mask neg-
ative emotions when interacting with individuals who have high
relative power (Diefendorff, Morehart, & Gabriel, 2010). Thus,
when interacting with supervisors, employees have a stronger
tendency to suppress negative emotions, such as anxiety, while
when interacting with coworkers, employees only partially sup-
press negative emotion (Diefendorff & Greguras, 2009). Similarly,
employees have been found to share emotional experiences with
coworkers in almost 80% of emotional workplace events (Hadley,
2014). Thus, employees are more likely to be relaxed and share
internal affective states when interacting with coworkers than with
supervisors (Ferris & Mitchell, 1987). Second, coworkers interact
more frequently with each other than with supervisors, providing
a more accurate daily picture of each other’s well-being
(Hüffmeier & Hertel, 2011). These frequent interactions increase
the number of emotional and behavioral resources that coworkers
draw from to provide social support (Chiaburu & Harrison, 2008).
Past research supports these propositions by demonstrating that
coworkers play a critical role in impacting employees’ well-being
(Halbesleben, 2006;Viswesvaran, Sanchez, & Fisher, 1999). This
is not surprising in light of the frequency with which coworkers
share their emotional experiences (Hadley, 2014). When people in
social exchange relationships share their internal feelings with
trusted others, they are more likely to receive social support to help
deal with problems, and are more effectively able to cope with the
potential negative consequences of work strains (Snow, Swan,
Raghavan, Connell, & Klein, 2003). In turn, these factors
strengthen one’s ability to cope with strain (Thoits, 2011). It thus
stands to reason that elevated coworker support should help mit-
igate the emotionally exhausting effects of workplace anxiety.
Although research has yet to examine the potential buffering
effect of CWX in the workplace anxiety– emotional exhaustion
relationship, there is some evidence for the moderating role of
coworker support in the relation between general stressors and
strains. For example, coworker support has been found to mini-
mize the negative effects of strain on affective (e.g., depressed
mood; Karasek et al., 1982) and health-related (e.g., depression;
LaRocco, House, & French, 1980) outcomes. Coworker support
has also been found to buffer the relation between abusive super-
vision and emotional exhaustion (Wu & Hu, 2009), as well as the
effects of an unsafe work climate on employees’ affective com-
mitment (van Emmerik, Euwema, & Bakker, 2007). Finally, meta-
analytic data indicates that coworker social support is a stronger
buffer of the stressor-strain relation than supervisory support
(Viswesvaran et al., 1999). These findings are consistent with the
buffering hypothesis advanced by Cohen and Wills (1985), which
suggests that social support intervenes in the experience of stress-
ful experiences. We predict CWX will play a pivotal role in
buffering the link between workplace anxiety and emotional ex-
haustion.
Hypothesis 2: CWX will moderate the relation between work-
place anxiety and emotional exhaustion, such that this positive
relation will be weaker when CWX is high.
The moderating role of LMX. Whereas coworker support
buffers the exhaustion associated with anxiety, we suggest super-
visor support is more likely to impact the link between emotional
exhaustion and job performance. As described, interactions be-
tween employees and supervisors are less likely to involve emo-
tional sharing and displays of emotions by employees than are
interactions between coworkers. This is because employees are
more likely to control their emotional expressions when interaction
partners have high relative power, compared with when the power
differential is equal or lower (Diefendorff et al., 2010). Further,
compared with coworker interactions, those between employees
and supervisors are more likely to be based on economic exchange,
where employees provide high levels of performance in exchange
for tangible rewards (Hüffmeier & Hertel, 2011). According to
social exchange theory, this occurs because supervisory support
promotes employees’ sense of obligation and increases their mo-
tivation to perform (Sakurai & Jex, 2012). This elevated motiva-
tion should allow employees with higher LMX to overcome the
effects of exhaustion on performance. This is consistent with
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282 MCCARTHY, TROUGAKOS, AND CHENG
research on personal resources (e.g., Muraven & Slessareva,
2003), which shows that people who have higher levels of moti-
vation are able to maintain performance effectiveness even when
resources are depleted (i.e., states of exhaustion). Under conditions
of higher supervisor exchange relationship quality, the associated
elevated motivation will help offset the detrimental effects of
emotional exhaustion, allowing employees to perform effectively
despite feeling internally depleted. Thus, “supervisor support
should lead to more technically precise work outcomes than should
coworker support” (Ng & Sorensen, 2008, p. 246).
In addition to the potential motivational effects of higher LMX
quality, we suggest that higher LMX relationships provide em-
ployees with greater external resources that can help to offset
depleted internal personal resources. Supervisors are often gate-
keepers to tangible resources within an organization (Graen &
Scandura, 1987). Therefore, strong dyadic relationships with su-
pervisors can help employees obtain material resources necessary
to perform at higher levels (Ng & Sorensen, 2008;Scott & Bruce,
1994), allowing them to overcome internal resource deficits more
effectively by leaning more heavily on external resources. Thus,
supervisor support is particularly relevant in buffering the link
between exhaustion and performance.
Consistent with these propositions, empirical findings suggest
that, overall, higher quality LMX is related to higher levels of job
performance (Gerstner & Day, 1997), organizational citizenship
behaviors (Ilies, Nahrgang, & Morgeson, 2007) and organizational
attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction; Ng & Sorensen, 2008). Supervisor
support is also linked to stronger relations with task performance
than coworker support (Kamdar & Van Dyne, 2007), further
bolstering the notion that LMX should be especially relevant in
facilitating performance compared with CWX. Further, Sakurai
and Jex (2012) found that supervisor support moderated the rela-
tion between emotions and performance such that when supervisor
support was low, negative emotions had a detrimental impact on
employee levels of work effort. However, when supervisor support
was high, no significant relations were obtained. We predict the
following:
Hypothesis 3: LMX will moderate the relation between emo-
tional exhaustion and job performance, such that this negative
relation will be weaker when LMX is high.
Method
To test our predictions, we conducted a field study with the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A police context is highly rele-
vant to our scholarly research interests and pragmatic concerns
about workplace anxiety. Police officers have a broad set of
responsibilities that emphasize the provision of “. . . public safety
by maintaining order, responding to emergencies, protecting peo-
ple and property, enforcing motor vehicle and criminal laws, and
promoting good community relations” (O’Net, 2014). Their work
environment is characterized as high in stress, because they must
deal with violent offenders, crime scenes, accident victims, victims
of abuse, death, and public suspicion, among other demands (An-
dersen & Papazoglou, 2014). Further, over 80% of police officers
report that they interact with angry and/or unpleasant individuals
on a daily basis (O’Net, 2014), placing them at a significantly
higher risk of physical and mental health effects than the general
population (Hartley, Burchfiel, Fekedulegn, Andrew, & Violanti,
2011). Thus, workplace anxiety is highly relevant and is a common
occurrence among policing organizations (U.S. Department of
Labor, 2011).
Participants and Procedure
Participants included police officers, their supervisors, and their
peers.
1
They were recruited using a weekly newsletter that is
e-mailed to all officers. The newsletter informed officers that the
purpose of the study was to obtain feedback on police officer
well-being and job behaviors and directed them to the survey
website. The website contained the study questionnaires and asked
participants to provide contact information for their supervisor and
one coworker. At Time 1, officers completed the measure of
workplace anxiety. At Time 2 (3 months later), officers completed
measures of emotional exhaustion and cognitive interference. At
Time 3 (6 weeks following the Time 2 survey), supervisors com-
pleted measures of LMX and job performance, while peers com-
pleted the measure of CWX.
A total of 770 individuals responded to the first survey, and 595
individuals responded to the second survey (response rate 77%).
Participants were predominantly male (80%), Caucasian (88%),
and an average of 41 years of age. Most respondents had earned a
college diploma or university degree (80%). On average, they had
been a member of the police force for 15 years and had been
working under their current rank for 6 years. A variety of job titles
were held by the participants. Comparisons were made between
the respondent sample and the general population of police officers
to examine whether sampling bias posed a threat to the external
validity of the study. No significant differences were found be-
tween respondents and the general population of officers with
respect to age, sex, ethnicity, or education level.
A total of 326 officers (41%) agreed to have their supervisors
provide evaluations. Approximately six weeks after officers had
completed the second survey, supervisors were invited to rate their
employee’s performance and LMX using a Web based question-
naire. A total of 267 supervisors participated. The majority of
supervisors were male (86%) Caucasians (88%) who had earned a
college diploma or university degree (81%). The average supervi-
sor in the sample was 48 years old, had been a police officer for 24
years, and had been working under their current rank for four
years. Supervisors held a variety of job titles. Officers were also
asked to identify a peer with whom they had regular contact at
work. Like supervisors, peers were sent an invitation to rate CWX
approximately 6 weeks after officers had completed the second
survey. A total of 164 peers responded. The majority were male
(77%) Caucasians (88%) who had earned a college diploma or
university degree (76%).
Our final sample included 267 officers who had completed Time
1 and Time 2 surveys, and had their performance rated by their
supervisor. Peer ratings were obtained for 154 of these officers.
The majority of officers were male (78%) Caucasians (88%) who
had earned a college diploma or university degree (80%). On
average, they had been a member of the police force for 18 years
and had been working under their current rank for 5.5 years.
1
Our definition of peer includes any coworker that an officer has in their
network.
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283
ARE ANXIOUS WORKERS LESS PRODUCTIVE?
Measures
With the exception of the demographic variables, all scales were
assessed using a Likert-type rating that ranged from 1 (strongly
disagree)to5(strongly agree). Psychometric properties of the
selected scales have been found to be strong in past research, and
each scale exhibited adequate internal consistency reliabilities in
the current study.
Workplace anxiety. Workplace anxiety was assessed with
eight items modified from the performance anxiety scale devel-
oped by McCarthy and Goffin (2004). A sample item is: “I am
overwhelmed by thoughts of doing poorly at work” (␣⫽.94). See
Appendix for full item list.
Emotional exhaustion. Emotional exhaustion was assessed
with the five-item subscale of the Maslach Burnout Inventory
General Survey (Schaufeli, Leiter, Maslach, & Jackson, 1996). A
sample item is: “I feel used up at the end of the work day” (␣⫽
.95).
Cognitive interference. Cognitive interference was assessed
with six items adapted from the Cognitive Interference Question-
naire (Sarason, Potter, & Sarason, 1986). A sample item is: “When
I am at work, I think about non-work activities” (␣⫽.90).
Supervisor-rated LMX. Supervisors assessed LMX by com-
pleting seven items from Graen and Uhl-Bien’s (1995) LMX scale.
We asked supervisors to evaluate LMX to mitigate common
source biases and to more fully capture the support focal employ-
ees receive from their interaction partners. Past research suggests
that people are often not aware of the full extent of support they
might receive from their interaction partners, and that this support
provides valuable resources and benefits beyond what the em-
ployee is aware they are receiving (Howland & Simpson, 2010). A
sample item is: “I use my power to help this employee solve
problems at work” (␣⫽.80).
Peer-rated CWX. Peers assessed CWX by completing the
same seven items from Graen and Uhl-Bien’s (1995) LMX scale.
Consistent with LMX, we asked peers to evaluate CWX to miti-
gate common source biases and to more fully capture the support
focal employees receive from their interaction partners. A sample
item is: “I use my power to help this employee solve problems at
work” (␣⫽.72).
Supervisor-rated job performance. Supervisors assessed
job performance by completing a 20-item scale of police officer
job competencies that were identified through a job analysis.
Supervisors evaluated the extent to which their employee dis-
played each competency (e.g., “This person independently pro-
duces consistent, high quality results” and “This person identifies,
creates, and implements effective solutions to problems”; ␣⫽
.97). Performance ratings were collected for research rather than
for administrative purposes because operational ratings are prone
to leniency error (Curtis, Darvey, & Ravden, 2005).
Results
Table 1 presents the descriptive statistics and correlations among
study variables. We tested the hypotheses in our conceptual model
with structural equation modeling (SEM) using Amos 19 software
(Arbuckle, 2010). Maximum likelihood estimation procedures were
used and three indices were employed to assess the fit of our models:
the Chi-Square index, the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation
(RMSEA), and the Comparative Fit Index (CFI). This combination of
fit indices ensured the inclusion of an index that considers how much
variance is explained in light of how many degrees of freedom are
used (i.e., RMSEA), as well as an index that is a direct function of
how much variance is explained by the model (i.e., CFI; Bentler,
1990). For the CFI, values approaching 1 indicate a good fit. In the
case of the RMSEA, values approaching 0 indicate a good fit. Given
that we also conducted comparisons of non-nested models, we also
include the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC: Akaike, 1987) and the
Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC; Raftery, 1995). For each of
these, smaller values indicate a stronger fit. The power of our analyses
was found to be 1.0 for a test of close fit (RMSEA .05; Preacher &
Coffman, 2006).
We first examined the measurement model by randomly group-
ing items within each scale into three parcels that served as
indicators of each latent construct (Williams & Anderson, 1994).
Covariances among all latent factors were free to vary. Results
indicated that our 6-factor measurement model achieved a strong
fit to the data,
2
(120) 180.2, p.01; RMSEA .04; CFI
.98; AIC 318.16; BIC 565.68. Moreover, item parcel loadings
were significant (.72 to .98, p.01), suggesting that the items
represented their intended constructs. We compared our model to
a five-factor model that grouped LMX and job performance to-
gether,
2
(125) 384.73, p.01; RMSEA .09; CFI .93;
AIC 409.61; BIC 639.20; a five-factor model that grouped
CWX and LMX together,
2
(125) 419.22, p.01; RMSEA
.09; CFI .92; AIC 547.22; BIC 776.81; and a one-factor
model that grouped all constructs onto a single factor,
2
(135)
2749.29, p.01; RMSEA .27; CFI .30; AIC 2857.29;
Table 1
Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations Among Scale Composites and Latent Variables
Variables MSD 123456
1. Workplace anxiety 2.34 1.16 .62
ⴱⴱⴱ
.24
ⴱⴱ
.03 .05 .16
2. Emotional exhaustion 2.79 1.22 .50
ⴱⴱⴱ
— .29
ⴱⴱ
.01 .01 .15
3. Cognitive interference 2.54 .94 .33
ⴱⴱⴱ
.09 .07 .05 .18
4. Leader–member exchange (LMX) 4.20 .53 .02 .03 .02 .05 .78
ⴱⴱⴱ
5. Coworker exchange (CWX) 4.20 .46 .39
ⴱⴱⴱ
.06 .01 .03 — .23
ⴱⴱ
6. Job performance 4.19 .64 .16
.14
.03 .55
ⴱⴱⴱ
.16
Note. N 267 for all variables except CWX, where N154. Correlations below the diagonal represent
zero-order relations among the observed scales. Correlations above the diagonal represent relations among the
latent scales assessed in our structural equation analyses.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
ⴱⴱⴱ
p.001.
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284 MCCARTHY, TROUGAKOS, AND CHENG
BIC 3084.64. In each case, our six-factor model was a stronger
fit to the data.
Next, we tested our hypothesized model by following proce-
dures recommended for testing moderation effects with continuous
variables in SEM (Moulder & Algina, 2002). Adopting Jaccard
and Wan’s (1995) procedure, we mean centered main effect vari-
ables before computing product term indicators in order to reduce
collinearity between the main effect and interaction terms. Find-
ings indicated that the hypothesized model yielded an acceptable
fit to the data,
2
(244) 358.21, p.01; RMSEA .04; CFI
.97; AIC 539.25; BIC 826.23, and is presented in Figure 1.
2
As illustrated, the findings supported our hypotheses.
Hypothesis 1 predicted that emotional exhaustion will mediate
the relation between workplace anxiety and job performance while
accounting for cognitive interference. As predicted, workplace
anxiety demonstrated a significant positive relation with emotional
exhaustion (␤⫽.62, b.58, SE .05, p.001), which in turn
demonstrated a significant negative effect with job performance
(␤⫽⫺.13, b⫽⫺.07, SE .03, p.001). Further, the stan-
dardized coefficient for the indirect effect of workplace anxiety on
performance through emotional exhaustion and cognitive interfer-
ence was .10 (b⫽⫺.05, SE .01), and the 95% bias-corrected
confidence interval ranged from .15 to .04 (5,000 bootstrap
resamples). In contrast, the standardized direct effect of workplace
anxiety on job performance was .00, nonsignificant (ns;b.00,
SE .00). These findings indicate that the relationship between
workplace anxiety and job performance is fully mediated by emo-
tional exhaustion and cognitive interference. Further, emotional
exhaustion explained additional variance in job performance above
and beyond cognitive interference (R
2
.04). According to
current benchmarks, this effect is medium in magnitude (Bosco,
Aguinis, Singh, Field, & Pierce, 2015). Our findings also indicate
that anxiety explains 38% of the variance in emotional exhaustion,
6% of the variance in cognitive interference, and that the combined
effects of anxiety, emotional exhaustion and cognitive interference
explain 63% of the variance in job performance. Overall, our
results support Hypothesis 1.
Our second set of hypotheses focused on the moderating roles of
CWX and LMX. As illustrated in Figure 1, CWX (␤⫽⫺.17,
b⫽⫺.20, SE .08, p.01) was found to moderate the relation
between workplace anxiety and emotional exhaustion, providing
support for Hypothesis 2, while LMX (␤⫽.10, b.12, SE .06,
p.01) was found to moderate the relation between emotional
exhaustion and job performance, providing support for Hypothesis
3. Figure 2 illustrates the CWX interaction effect. Simple slopes
analyses revealed that emotional exhaustion was more strongly
related to workplace anxiety at low levels of CWX (b.78, SE
.11), t(266) 6.84, p.01, than at high levels of CWX (b.39,
SE .12), t(266) 3.33, p.01. Figure 3 illustrates the LMX
interaction effect. Simple slopes analyses revealed that emotional
exhaustion was more strongly related to job performance at low
levels of LMX (b⫽⫺.23, SE .04), t(266) ⫽⫺5.14, p.01,
than at high levels of LMX (b⫽⫺.03, SE .04), t(266) ⫽⫺.67,
ns. In terms of the magnitude of effects, our findings indicate that
anxiety and CWX explain 41% of the variance in emotional
exhaustion, and that emotional exhaustion and LMX explain 59%
of the variance in job performance. Overall, our results support
Hypotheses 2 and 3.
Our final set of analyses involved testing two alternative mod-
els. First we tested a “reverse-causation” model, in which job
performance was set as an antecedent to emotional exhaustion and
cognitive interference, which in turn were set as antecedents to
workplace anxiety. The reverse causation model exhibited a
weaker fit to the data than our hypothesized model,
2
(244)
572.74, p.01; RMSEA .07; CFI .93; AIC 732.74;
BIC 1019.72. Second, we tested a “full” model in which both
LMX and CWX were positioned as moderators of the relation
between anxiety and emotional exhaustion, and both LMX and
CWX were positioned as moderators of the relation between
emotional exhaustion and job performance. This model retained
cognitive interference as a mediating mechanism. The “full” model
exhibited a weaker fit to the data than our hypothesized model,
2
(392) 1037.61, p.01; RMSEA .08; CFI .88; AIC
1179.54; BIC 1,549.03. Nevertheless, the overall pattern of
regression weights replicates that found in our predicted model.
Specifically, CWX (but not LMX) significantly moderates the
2
The overall pattern of findings remains the same when organizational
tenure, neuroticism (measured via John & Srivastava, 1999), and job stress
(measured via Parker & DeCotiis, 1983), are controlled.
Figure 1. Structural equation modeling (SEM) final model results. Note.
Standardized coefficients are presented here—please see results section for
unstandardized coefficients and standard errors. Fit statistics:
2
(244)
358.21, p.01; Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA)
.04; Comparative Fit Index (CFI) .97.
Figure 2. Coworker exchange (CWX) as a moderator of workplace
anxiety and emotional exhaustion.
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285
ARE ANXIOUS WORKERS LESS PRODUCTIVE?
relation between workplace anxiety and emotional exhaustion,
while LMX (but not CWX) significantly moderates the relation
between emotional exhaustion and job performance. Combined,
our results provide strong support for our theoretically driven
model of workplace anxiety and job performance.
Discussion
Our research advances the field by demonstrating that emotional
exhaustion is an important mechanism underlying the relation
between workplace anxiety and job performance. We also show
that social exchange can mitigate the harmful effects of workplace
anxiety, such that CWX moderates the relation between anxiety
and emotional exhaustion, and LMX moderates the relation be-
tween emotional exhaustion and job performance. Thus, while
workplace anxiety may come at a high cost, social support can
mitigate its negative effects.
Contributions to Research
There are a number of theoretical contributions of this study.
First, our study extends the use of COR theory by proposing that
individuals who experience high levels of workplace anxiety may
perceive the workplace as a threatening environment and thus
remain in a high state of alert to avoid resource loss. Given that this
state of alert requires high levels of vigilance, it actually serves to
deplete resources and is related to emotional exhaustion. We
contribute to COR theory by exploring the role of workplace
anxiety on resource depletion, as well as the role that resource loss
plays in employee job effectiveness.
Second, our research moves beyond cognitive interference and
considers emotional exhaustion as the key process underlying the
relation between anxiety and performance. Emotional exhaustion
was found to mediate above and beyond cognitive interference.
These findings represent an important contribution to the field, as
they suggest that meaningful models of workplace anxiety should
consider both the effects of workplace anxiety on resource deple-
tion via emotional exhaustion, as well as the effects of workplace
anxiety on cognitive interference via off-task processing. Further,
these findings extend past research that has examined the relations
between employee well-being and job performance (e.g., positive
and negative affect; Kaplan, Bradley, Luchman, & Haynes, 2009),
by illuminating a viable mechanism— emotional exhaustion—that
may underlie the relations. Ultimately, our article is one of the first
to simultaneously examine the process of resource loss with ex-
haustion and cognitive interference as it relates to worker effec-
tiveness, providing another important contribution to COR theory.
A third contribution of our study is that we consider moderators
of the relations between workplace anxiety, emotional exhaustion
and job performance. Drawing from COR theory, our study high-
lights the role of social support in buffering the negative effects of
workplace anxiety and emotional exhaustion. Our study finds
support for the role of interpersonal resources (i.e., social support)
as an antidote for the harmful effects of anxiety on job perfor-
mance. Thus, our paper integrates the COR and workplace ex-
change literatures which, until now, have largely existed in paral-
lel. We also add to the social exchange literature by demonstrating
the importance of considering relationship source, as our results
highlight differences in coworker and supervisor relationships.
Practical Implications
This study has notable implications for individuals who suffer
from high levels of workplace anxiety, for individuals who work in
demanding environments (e.g., role conflict, high workload), and
for individuals who work in high-pressure industries (e.g., police
officers, financial traders). First, it demonstrates that workplace
anxiety comes at a high cost, as anxious individuals are more likely
to experience emotional exhaustion, and in turn, have lower levels
of job performance. As a result, it is crucial for these employees to
have access to resources that will allow them to recover from the
resource drain that workplace anxiety can induce.
Our findings also highlight the important role of social exchange
resources, as employees who were able to draw on supervisors and
coworkers for support were less likely to experience the harmful
effects of workplace anxiety and emotional exhaustion. Thus,
continuously working to improve relations with coworkers and
supervisors is paramount. Research evidence suggests that open
communication is the key to developing these strong relations
(Miles, Patrick, & King, 1996). From the perspective of organiza-
tions, our findings highlight the importance of training all employ-
ees to develop positive work relations and to engage in supportive
behaviors. We also acknowledge the potential for social support to
buffer the effects of workplace anxiety on cognitive interference,
and we encourage future research to explore this possibility.
Additional strategies that may reduce the harmful effects of
workplace anxiety include giving employees breaks (Trougakos &
Hideg, 2009), providing them with autonomy over how to use
break times (Trougakos, Hideg, Cheng, & Beal, 2014), and reduc-
ing emotional demands on employees (Goldberg & Grandey,
2007). Individual-based strategies, such as high quality sleep (e.g.,
Sonnentag, Binnewies, & Mojza, 2008) and learning new hobbies
(e.g., Fritz & Sonnentag, 2006), have also been found to be
effective resource recovery tools. Importantly, future work should
consider the mechanisms underlying each technique, such as the
extent to which it reduces emotional exhaustion, cognitive inter-
ference, or other mediating factors.
Figure 3. Leader–member exchange (LMX) as a moderator of emotional
exhaustion and job performance.
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286 MCCARTHY, TROUGAKOS, AND CHENG
Strengths, Limitations, and Directions for
Future Research
A core strength of our work is that we draw from past theory and
research to develop a conceptual framework delineating mediating
and moderating mechanisms of the relation between workplace
anxiety and job performance. We provide a robust test of our
predictions by adopting a three-wave methodological design, cap-
turing data from multiple sources, and utilizing advanced statistical
procedures to test our complete model. Nevertheless, it would be
advantageous to assess our model over longer periods of time.
Future research that includes more than three waves would help to
fully elucidate these relations.
An additional strength is that our research was based on a large
sample of employees and included ratings of LMX and job per-
formance by supervisors, as well as ratings of CWX by coworkers.
This type of data is challenging to obtain and increases the gen-
eralizability of our findings. It also helps to bridge science and
practice by advancing our theoretical understanding of the role of
workplace anxiety, while providing valuable information on how
to manage its potentially harmful effects. A corresponding limita-
tion is that our sample was comprised of police officers who were
predominantly Caucasian males. While these demographics are
representative of North American police officers, it would be
advantageous for future research to examine whether the results of
the present study hold for minority group members, as well as for
other job incumbent populations. We believe that our model would
receive support with other groups, particularly high-stakes occu-
pations such as military personnel, firefighters, and airline pilots.
The basis for this assertion is that the theoretical links between the
variables in our model are the same, regardless of the demographic
background and/or type of job that the employee holds. However,
we acknowledge that the strength of these effects may differ across
jobs. For example, police officers often work in shifts which
provides periods of “down-time.” This type of break may serve to
restrict the effects of cognitive interference in the workplace
anxiety—job performance relation.
3
Future work that examines
our model in low-stress occupations would be particularly valu-
able.
We also elected to have coworkers and supervisors provide the
rating of exchange relationship quality. We were interested in the
support that employees received from those in their work environ-
ment and we wanted to ensure that our measurement was aligned
with our goals. Having coworkers and supervisors provide ratings
of CWX and LMX is also consistent with research on invisible
support, which demonstrates that targets of support may not be
completely aware of the exact nature of support they receive, and
that this invisible support can influence their emotional and per-
formance effectiveness (e.g., Bolger & Amarel, 2007). Therefore,
we obtained other ratings of exchange quality to capture the
support that employees may not recognize. It also provided us with
a second and third source of data, thus reducing concerns of
common source variance and strengthening our methodology. At
the same time, we acknowledge that our measures captured the
level of support perceived by the giver of the support, and may
thus include biases. It would be advantageous for future research
to adopt a multiple-rater approach and compare the ratings of
social support made by the target employee to the ratings made by
supervisors and peers.
We would also like to note that the slope for the effect of
emotional exhaustion on job performance for those with high
levels of LMX (Figure 3) was not statistically significant. While
this might have been a result of supervisors rating subordinates
with better quality LMX consistently higher on job performance,
regardless of exhaustion levels, we suggest that it is more likely
that this result was a product of the LMX relationship. To be
specific, the ability to maintain a consistent level of excellent
performance is a critical element of high quality LMX (Graen &
Scandura, 1987). High LMX individuals are relied upon by super-
visors to perform the more critical tasks of the work group (Dien-
esch & Liden, 1986). These employees are likely to do what is
necessary to meet performance requirements at a consistently high
level regardless of their levels of exhaustion, in order to maintain
the success of the work group, as well as the quality of their LMX
relationship. At the same time, supervisors may be more likely to
recognize when high LMX employees are exhausted, and in turn
provide them with greater resources to help them maintain perfor-
mance. The end result is a consistent level of performance regard-
less of employee exhaustion levels. We encourage future research
to more fully explore the nature and mechanisms underlying these
relations.
4
Conclusion
The current study tested and found support for emotional ex-
haustion as a new theoretical link between workplace anxiety and
job performance, even while controlling for a previously hypoth-
esized mechanism, cognitive interference. This finding is impor-
tant because it suggests that workplace anxiety should be modeled
in a more holistic manner than has been done in the past by
incorporating emotional exhaustion and cognitive interference as
explanatory mechanisms. Our study also provided insight into
social exchange as an antidote to the effects of workplace anxiety
on job performance. Overall, these findings provide further in-
sights into the consequences of workplace anxiety, and demon-
strate that while workplace anxiety comes at a high cost, it can be
managed.
3
We thank an anonymous reviewer for this suggestion.
4
We thank an anonymous reviewer for this suggestion.
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Appendix
Workplace Anxiety Items
1. I am overwhelmed by thoughts of doing poorly at work.
2. I worry that my work performance will be lower than that of
others at work.
3. I feel nervous and apprehensive about not being able to meet
performance targets.
4. I worry about not receiving a positive job performance
evaluation.
5. I often feel anxious that I will not be able to perform my job
duties in the time allotted.
6. I worry about whether others consider me to be a good
employee for the job.
7. I worry that I will not be able to successfully manage the
demands of my job.
8. Even when I try as hard as I can, I still worry about whether
my job performance will be good enough.
Note. Items adapted with permission from McCarthy and Goffin
(2004).
Received August 6, 2014
Revision received June 22, 2015
Accepted June 23, 2015
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ARE ANXIOUS WORKERS LESS PRODUCTIVE?
... Un domaine de recherche plus récent est celui de l'anxiété de performance au travail. L'anxiété au travail est définie comme un sentiment de nervosité, d'inconfort, et de tension à propos de son niveau de performance au travail (McCarthy et al., 2016). Quelques études empiriques ont démontré une relation négative entre l'anxiété et la performance au travail (Cheng et McCarthy, 2018;McCarthy et al., 2016), mais aussi dans les processus de sélection (McCarthy et Goffin, 2004;Proost et al., 2008). ...
... L'anxiété au travail est définie comme un sentiment de nervosité, d'inconfort, et de tension à propos de son niveau de performance au travail (McCarthy et al., 2016). Quelques études empiriques ont démontré une relation négative entre l'anxiété et la performance au travail (Cheng et McCarthy, 2018;McCarthy et al., 2016), mais aussi dans les processus de sélection (McCarthy et Goffin, 2004;Proost et al., 2008). Comme dans le domaine académique, les travaux sur l'anxiété de performance au travail, sont souvent basés sur les théories d'interférence cognitive, dans lesquelles des niveaux d'anxiété élevés, déstabilisent la capacité de traiter l'information adéquatement, augmentent le focus vers soi, ces pensées et symptômes provoquant ensuite une diminution de la performance (Eynseck et al., 2007;McCarthy et al., 2016;Wine, 1980). ...
... Quelques études empiriques ont démontré une relation négative entre l'anxiété et la performance au travail (Cheng et McCarthy, 2018;McCarthy et al., 2016), mais aussi dans les processus de sélection (McCarthy et Goffin, 2004;Proost et al., 2008). Comme dans le domaine académique, les travaux sur l'anxiété de performance au travail, sont souvent basés sur les théories d'interférence cognitive, dans lesquelles des niveaux d'anxiété élevés, déstabilisent la capacité de traiter l'information adéquatement, augmentent le focus vers soi, ces pensées et symptômes provoquant ensuite une diminution de la performance (Eynseck et al., 2007;McCarthy et al., 2016;Wine, 1980). Le problème que l'on retrouve dans ce domaine est qu'outre quelques études abordant l'impact de l'anxiété sur la performance au travail (Koukachi et Desai, 2015;McCarthy et al., 2016), peu d'études abordent la peur de ne pas atteindre la cible de performance exigée par le travail professionnel. ...
... Workplace anxiety refers to employees' reaction to the stressors generated at work. When they are anxious, employees may feel nervous, stressed, and uneasy about work-related performance (McCarthy et al., 2016;Cheng and McCarthy, 2018). Workplace anxiety has potentially detrimental consequences for both employees and their organizations. ...
... Specifically, employees who experience anxiety at work may have reduced job performance (Ford et al., 2011;McCarthy et al., 2016) and job satisfaction (Boyd et al., 2009). In addition, anxiety may prompt counterproductive behaviors (Rodell and Judge, 2009), workplace cheating behavior (Hillebrandt and Barclay, 2022), and self-interested unethical behavior (Kouchaki and Desai, 2015). ...
... Considering the harmful consequences of workplace anxiety on employee attitudes and behaviors, it is not surprising that a large number of articles have focused on the negative effects of workplace anxiety (Eysenck et al., 2007;McCarthy et al., 2016;Calderwood et al., 2018;Lin et al., 2020;Liu et al., 2020). Despite these efforts, research on the relationship between workplace anxiety and overall job performance may still be considered relatively simplistic and incomplete (Cheng and McCarthy, 2018). ...
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Although the dominant view in the literature suggests that work-related anxiety experienced by employees affects their behavior and performance, little research has focused on how and when leaders’ workplace anxiety affects their followers’ job performance. Drawing from Emotions as Social Information (EASI) theory, we propose dual mechanisms of cognitive interference and emotional exhaustion to explain the relationship between leader workplace anxiety and subordinate job performance. Specifically, cognitive interference is the mechanism that best explains the link between leader workplace anxiety and follower task performance, while emotional exhaustion is the mechanism that best explains the link between leader workplace anxiety and follower contextual performance. Additionally, we examine how follower epistemic motivation serves as a boundary condition for the effect of leader anxiety on follower performance outcomes. Results from a 2-wave study of 228 leader-follower dyads in a high-tech company mostly supported our theoretical model. We conclude the study with a discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.
... Moreover, we argue that a facet-level perspective can resolve past empirical inconsistencies in documenting the strain implications of situational strength (Meyer et al., 2018;Steel et al., 2008). Specifically, we argue that clarity and consistency perceptions surrounding extra-normative work co-vary with lower strain and argue that consequence and constraint perceptions surrounding extra-normative work engender greater strain (i.e., anxiety surrounding the work role; perceptions of job stress; emotional exhaustion; McCarthy et al., 2016;Motowidlo et al., 1986;Wharton, 1993). Thus, one of our primary contributions is to test the notion that strain-based reactions are less a function of the extent to which one's behavior is perceived as being influenced by external considerations and more a function of the extent to which these considerations are perceived by employees as either facilitating (i.e., clarity and consistency) or inhibiting (i.e., constraints and consequences) forces. ...
... In contrast, we anticipate that consequences and constraints underlying extra-normative work will engender the theorized elevation of strain posited within broader situational strength theory (Meyer et al., 2010;Shoda et al., 1994). Work-related consequences are thought to be a major influence on anxiety surrounding the work role, which empirical evidence suggests is directly relevant to employee strain criteria (Calderwood et al., 2018;McCarthy et al., 2016). Constraints, by definition, undermine autonomy and the ability to make decisions about how extra-normative work should be carried out, both of which are seen as crucial to strain mitigation and well-being promotion in numerous frameworks, such as the Job Demands -Control Model (Karasek, 1979) and Self-Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2017). ...
... In Study 1 (an experimental vignette study), we elected to evaluate how extra-normative work situations varying in situational strength would influence emotional exhaustion and anxiety. We selected these strain criteria because they are viewed as widespread in organizations, have consistently been established as contributors to employee health, wellness, and performance (Bakker & Demerouti, 2017;McCarthy et al., 2016), and could be adapted to a vignette context (i.e., predicted emotional exhaustion and anxiety when facing a given situation). In Studies 2 and 3 (survey-based studies focused on the extra-normative work contexts of working after-hours and abruptly teleworking in response to COVID-19, respectively), we again evaluated emotional exhaustion, but also investigated work anxiety (nervousness and apprehension surrounding the completion of job tasks; McCarthy et al., 2016) to provide a closer conceptualization of our anxiety indicator with the employment context, relative to our approach in Study 1. ...
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Employees must often perform work outside of the time and/or space requirements that typically define their job role (e.g., working after-hours, teleworking), especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We introduce the concept of extra-normative work to capture this idea and draw on situational strength theory to test the seemingly paradoxical hypotheses that (1) the effects of extra-normative work are more harmful to employee strain when this work represents a stronger situation (i.e., one that unambiguously prescribes expected behavior), relative to when this work represents a weaker situation (i.e., one that allows for greater personal choice and behavioral latitude), but that (2) this strain is diminished when situational strength is achieved by maximizing the clarity and consistency of extra-normative work, while this strain is enhanced when situational strength is achieved by imposing greater constraints and consequences surrounding extra-normative work. These predictions were supported in an experimental vignette study, a survey focused on after-hours work experiences, and an investigation of telework in response to COVID-19. We discuss the theoretical implications of viewing extra-normative work through the lens of situational strength, while also outlining how our findings inform best practices surrounding how to communicate about and frame extra-normative work to employees.
... Therefore, this study focuses on two variables, affective rumination, and workplace anxiety. The former is a continuous negative perception deviation related to work (Querstret and Cropley, 2012), while the latter is a feeling of nervousness and fear of completing a work task (McCarthy et al., 2016). To a certain extent, negative perceptions and affections would lead to the individual's behavior of flinching in the workplace (Tepper et al., 2008;Wang and Yi, 2012;Chi and Liang, 2013), namely, workplace flinching behavior. ...
... Workplace anxiety is the feeling that employees feel nervous and worried about completing work tasks (McCarthy et al., 2016), it is the tension and worry that employees feel when they feel potential threats, it represents the stress response of employees with tension as symptoms (Beerhr, 1995). Workplace anxiety is state anxiety in workplace situations, which usually occurs when individuals are facing pressure or specific tasks. ...
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Based on the Cognitive-Affective Personality System Theory, this study takes 443 employees of several Chinese enterprises and their direct superiors as the research objects, then a 1:1 paired survey is carried out at three different time points, and data is processed by Mplus 7.4 software. This study finds from a bystander perspective: leader aggressive humor plays a positive role in bystander affective rumination and bystander workplace anxiety. Both bystander affective rumination and bystander workplace anxiety play a mediation role between leader aggressive humor and bystander workplace withdrawal behavior. Besides, organization-based self-esteem alleviates the positive impact of leader aggressive humor on bystander affective rumination and bystander workplace anxiety, and then moderates the indirect impact of leader aggressive humor on bystander workplace withdrawal behavior through bystander affective rumination and bystander workplace anxiety, respectively. This study has practical guiding significance for promoting the organization to reduce the occurrence of aggressive humor, helping employees better integrate into the organization, and building a harmonious organizational environment.
... Environmental performance anxiety climate. We measured environmental performance anxiety climate by adapting a four-item scale developed by McCarthy et al. (2016). A sample item was "I am overwhelmed by thoughts of doing poorly at work." (Cronbach's α = 0.841). ...
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Drawing upon social information processing theory, this article analyzes the impact of two dimensions of environmental regulations (i.e., command-based and market-based) on enterprise green innovation through two different processes: Top Management Team (TMT) harmonious environmental passion climate and TMT environmental performance anxiety climate. Further, this article examined the moderating role of CEO regulatory focus between TMT affective climate and enterprise green innovation. Analyzing questionnaires collected from 184 Chinese firms in the manufacturing industry, we obtain evidence to support our prediction, finding that environmental regulations positively impact enterprise green innovation. Additionally, TMT harmonious environmental passion climate is found to fully mediate the relationship between market-based environmental regulation and enterprise green innovation, while TMT environmental performance anxiety climate is found to partially mediate the relationship between command-based environmental regulation and green innovation. Furthermore, CEO promotion regulatory focus strengthens the positive impact of TMT harmonious environmental passion climate on green innovation, and CEO prevention regulatory focus strengthens the positive impact of TMT environmental performance anxiety climate on green innovation. These findings extend how and when environmental regulations affect enterprise green innovation.
... It has been observed that no scale has been developed before to measure the occupational anxiety of health worker candidates who have undergraduate and associate degree education. Muschalla 2,7,[12][13][14] The interview and survey questions in the data collection tools used in these studies were compiled. Forty five statements from the compiled interview and survey questions were selected and converted into scale items. ...
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