Absenteeism associated with accumulated job demands is a ubiquitous problem. We build on prior research on the benefits of counteracting job demands with resources by focusing on a still untapped resource for buffering job demands-that of strengths use. We test the idea that employees who are actively encouraged to utilize their personal strengths on the job are better positioned to cope with job demands. Based on conservation of resources (COR) theory, we hypothesized that job demands can accumulate and together have an exacerbating effect on company registered absenteeism. In addition, using job demands-resources theory, we hypothesized that perceived organizational support for strengths use can buffer the impact of separate and combined job demands (workload and emotional demands) on absenteeism. Our sample consisted of 832 employees from 96 departments (response rate = 40.3%) of a Dutch mental health care organization. Results of multilevel analyses indicated that high levels of workload strengthen the positive relationship between emotional demands and absenteeism and that support for strength use interacted with workload and emotional job demands in the predicted way. Moreover, workload, emotional job demands, and strengths use interacted to predict absenteeism. Strengths use support reduced the level of absenteeism of employees who experienced both high workload and high emotional demands. We conclude that providing strengths use support to employees offers organizations a tool to reduce absenteeism, even when it is difficult to redesign job demands.
Woerkom et al 2016
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