Inevitable - or not? Organizational starting points for counteracting mental illness and the accompanying sick leave
Mental illnesses are widespread among mankind, with detrimental consequences for the affected, but also their surroundings (Fekadu et al., 2019; James et al., 2018; Qin & Nordentoft, 2005). In the work domain, mental illnesses and accompanying sick leave threaten important aspects of employees’...
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|Summary:||Mental illnesses are widespread among mankind, with detrimental consequences for the affected, but also their surroundings (Fekadu et al., 2019; James et al., 2018; Qin & Nordentoft, 2005). In the work domain, mental illnesses and accompanying sick leave threaten important aspects of employees’ working life just as the wellbeing of their organization (Amiri & Behnezhad, 2021; Greenberg et al., 2015; Hendriks et al., 2015; Noordik et al., 2011; Sieurin et al., 2009; Stewart et al., 2003). The present dissertation therefore examined work-related starting points for counteracting mental illness and associated sick leave: Building on the job demands-resources (JD-R) model (Bakker et al., 2003; Bakker et al., 2005; Bakker & Demerouti, 2017; Demerouti et al., 2001), I investigated, in how far supervisors are able to modulate the deleterious influence of employees’ workload on their level of mental illness and subsequent sick leave (first research question). Integrating the assumptions of the JD-R model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2017; Demerouti et al., 2001) and the stereotype content model (SCM; Cuddy et al., 2007, 2008; Fiske et al., 2002), I further examined the importance of the social exclusion, that employees experience at their workplace depending on their level of mental illness, as a mechanism between their illness and sick leave (second research question). The two manuscripts this dissertation is built on address those research questions. More specifically, manuscript 1 focused on the first question, by investigating a possible moderation of workload’s health-impairing effect (e.g., Virtanen et al., 2010) through employees’ leader: Building on previous literature (e.g., Corbière et al., 2016) and the JD-R model (Bakker et al., 2003; Bakker et al., 2005; Bakker & Demerouti, 2017; Demerouti et al., 2001) we investigated whether the resources, provided by employees’ leader, may attenuate workload’s indirect effect on sick leave via the level of depression. Longitudinal multilevel path-analyses (276 employees and 90 leaders) indicated, that leaders, who provide a high level of resources to their employees, may cease workload’s detrimental influence on employees’ level of depression just as the whole mediation. Manuscript 2 addressed the second research question, by examining the social exclusion of people suffering from a mental illness within the workplace: Basing on the SCM (Cuddy et al., 2007, 2008; Fiske et al., 2002) and the allostatic load model (McEwen & Stellar, 1993), we supposed that employees’ mental illness evokes their social exclusion at the job, finally resulting in sick leave. Path analyses with 86 participants, who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, point to the importance of social exclusion as a relevant mechanism: A higher severity of employees’ mental disorder goes along with a higher symptomatic burden, raising the level of exclusion employees experience at their job. This, in turn, increases the level of sick leave of the employees, yielding a serial mediation. Taken together, the present dissertation verifies old and identifies new starting points for organizations, to work against mental illness and accompanying sick leave: Organizations can regulate employees’ workload to a sound level, in order to prevent detrimental effects on their mental state and therefore sick leave. Workloads’ influence may as well be damped by empowering supervisors to provide sufficient resources to their employees. Lastly, the inclusion of every employee within the workforce is necessary, irrespective of their health status, in order to thwart sick leave. Organizations should take advantage of these possibilities to counteract – being indifferent and neglecting the staff’s mental state could cause far more harm to both, the employees and their organization.|
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