Work engagement and its antecedents in high-risk occupations : a police service case study

Sawang, Sukanlaya, Brough, Paula, & Barbour, Jennifer (2009) Work engagement and its antecedents in high-risk occupations : a police service case study. In Proceedings of : the 14th European Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology : EAWOP 2009, 13 – 16 May, 2009, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

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Introduction: Work engagement is a recent application of positive psychology and refers to a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption. Despite theoretical assumptions, there is little published research on work engagement, due primarily to its recent emergence as a psychological construct. Furthermore, examining work engagement among high-stress occupations, such as police, is useful because police officers are generally characterized as having a high level of work engagement. Previous research has identified job resources (e.g. social support) as antecedents of work engagement. However detailed evaluation of job demands as an antecedent of work engagement within high-stress occupations has been scarce. Thus our second aim was to test job demands (i.e. monitoring demands and problem-solving demands) and job resources (i.e. time control, method control, supervisory support, colleague support, and friend and family support) as antecedents of work engagement among police officers.

Method: Data were collected via a self-report online survey from one Australian state police service (n = 1,419). Due to the high number of hypothesized antecedent variables, hierarchical multiple regression analysis was employed rather than structural equation modelling.

Results: Work engagement reported by police officers was high. Female officers had significantly higher levels of work engagement than male officers, while officers at mid-level ranks (sergeant) reported the lowest levels of work engagement. Job resources (method control, supervisor support and colleague support) were significant antecedents of three dimensions of work engagement. Only monitoring demands were significant antecedent of the absorption.

Conclusion: Having healthy and engaged police officers is important for community security and economic growth. This study identified some common factors which influence work engagement experienced by police officers. However, we also note that excessive work engagement can yield negative outcomes such as psychological distress.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 27766
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Work Engagement, High-Risk Occupations, Police Service
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Organisational Behaviour (150311)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 please consult the authors
Deposited On: 06 Oct 2009 01:16
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2011 13:23

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