Emotional attachment to work may lead to greater well-being, study finds

Involved employees have lower absenteeism rates

Posted November 17, 2015

Workers who feel emotionally attached to and identify with their work have better psychological well-being, reports a study in the November Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Efforts to increase affective organizational commitment (AOC) may lead to a happier, healthier workforce — and possibly contribute to reducing employee turnover, suggests the research by Thomas Clausen of the Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, and colleagues.

AOC is defined as “the employee's emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization.” The study looked at how AOC affected psychological well-being and other health-related outcomes in approximately 5,000 Danish eldercare workers, organized into 300 workgroups.

The results showed significantly higher well-being for employees in workgroups with higher AOC. Workgroups with high AOC also had lower sickness absence rates and fewer sleep disturbances, as reported by workers.

The relationship between group-level AOC and psychological well-being was completely explained by individual-level AOC. But group AOC contributed to the differences in sick days and sleep problems, independent of individual AOC.

Previous studies have suggested that employees’ emotional attachment to and identification with their work is an important motivating factor that affects absenteeism and other key organizational outcomes. The new study adds evidence that group-level AOC “is an important predictor of employee well-being in contemporary healthcare organizations.”

Within workgroups, high AOC may act like an “emotional contagion” — with “effects on individual-level well-being that are relatively independent of the level of AOC of the individual,” Dr. Clausen and colleagues write. They suggest that strategies aimed at enhancing AOC might help to address the high rates of burnout and turnover among employees in health care and eldercare services.


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