Work-related health attributions:
their impact on work attitudes
Sara Goransson, Katharina Naswall and Magnus Sverke
Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this study is to introduce the concept of work-related health attributions and investigate the effects of such perceptions as well as of health status on work-related attitudes and turnover intentions.
Design/methodology/approach – Building on attribution theory, the study tests the assumption that negative work-related health attributions impair employee work-related attitudes and intentions, and moderate the relation between health status and work-related attitudes. Cross-sectional questionnaire data from 785 Swedish retail white-collar workers are collected to test these assumptions by utilizing moderated regression analyses.
Findings – The results show that negative work-related health attributions are related to lower levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment as well as higher levels of turnover intention, even after controlling for demographics, work climate variables, and mental distress. Further, the signiﬁcant interaction between attributions and mental distress indicates that it makes a difference for employees’ turnover intentions if an individual with high mental distress attributes it to work or not. Practical implications – Work-related health attributions should be taken into account in order to avoid impaired levels of employee work motivation. The measure introduced renders it possible to identify and help those individuals who believe that work affects their health negatively. Originality/value – The results underscore the relevance of how individuals think their health is affected by their work, and contributes to the understanding of how health status relates to work-related attitudes. Since the measure of work-related health attributions is easily administered it is also valuable for practitioners working with employee health and attitudes. Keywords Personal health, Job satisfaction, Employee turnover, Sick leave, Sweden Paper type Research paper
International Journal of Workplace
Vol. 2 No. 1, 2009
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The high rates of sick leave and the evidence regarding the effects of work on employee health in general have received increased attention in both research and media as of ´
late (Catalan Matamoros et al., 2007). This increased attention, along with the importance of work and health to individuals, is likely to have contributed to an increased interest among employees in how work actually affects their health (Harding and Hikspoors, 1995; Harpaz, 2002; Kallenberg and Larsson, 2000). The Third European Study on Working Conditions indicates, for instance, that 27 percent of employees believe that their health and safety are at risk because of their work (European Foundation, 2001). Further, a Swedish study on persons on long-term sick-leave found that 66 percent of those asked named work as the underlying cause for ¨
their sick-leave (Goransson et al., 2002). Moreover, Ettner and Grzywacz (2001) found that individuals’ perceptions of how work affects health tend to differ between different work situations, even after dispositional differences were controlled for. None of these studies, however, have studied how employee attitudes and behavioral intentions may be affected by such a negative view of how work affects health. We introduce the concept of work-related health attributions, which we argue
may add to the understanding of the factors that contribute to variation in job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and the will to stay with the organization. Whereas numerous studies have documented...