Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health Online-first -article    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3880

How leadership behaviors influence the effects of job predictability and perceived employability on employee mental health – a multilevel, prospective study

by Fløvik L, Knardahl S, Christensen JO

Objectives This study aimed to elucidate the potential moderating effect of fair-, empowering-, and supportive-leadership behaviors on the relationship between job predictability, future employability, and subsequent clinically relevant mental distress.

Method The study had a full panel, prospective design, utilizing online, self-administered questionnaire data collected at two time points, two years apart. Fair-, empowering-, and supportive-leadership behaviors, job predictability and future employability were measured by the General Nordic Questionnaire for Psychological and Social Factors at Work (QPSNordic). Mental health was measured using the 10-item Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-10), with cut-off set to >1.85 to identify clinically relevant cases. As data were nested within work units, a multilevel analytic approach was chosen.

Results Individual-level direct effects: (i) higher levels of job predictability [odds ratio (OR) 0.83, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.70–0.98], (ii) future employability (OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.74–0.93), (iii) fair- (OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.68–0.91), empowering- (OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.67–0.87), and supportive- (OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.61–0.81) leadership behavior, and (iv) the combination “quality of leadership” (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.59–0.81) were significantly associated with a lower risk of reporting subsequent mental distress. Work-unit level direct effects: higher work-unit levels of fair- (OR 0.52, 95% CI 0.34–0.80) and empowering- (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.40–0.94) leadership behaviors and quality of leadership (OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.34–0.87) were significantly associated with a lowered risk of subsequent mental distress. Cross-level interactions: No cross-level interaction effects were shown.

Conclusions Leadership behaviors did not moderate the effects of job predictability and future employability on mental health. However, employees embedded within work-units characterized by fair, empowering and supportive leadership behaviors had a lower risk of subsequent mental distress.

This article refers to the following text of the Journal: 2019;45(2):134-145
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