Why and when workplace interactions can go wrong: Multilevel mediation and moderation of workplace social stressor-strain relations
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Negative interpersonal workplace behaviours are an important but relatively infrequently studied occupational-stressor. The present research investigated the connection between these behaviours and employee well-being. This work had two main goals. The first goal was to provide greater insight into when and why social interactions at work can be harmful to employee well-being. Consistent with this goal, theory and research were reviewed, and results from two field studies were presented suggesting that (1) disrespect is an important characteristic of interpersonal workplace events that can explain detriments to employee well-being, and (2) both individual and contextual moderators are relevant in this process. In a first study, disrespectful leader behaviours were shown to negatively relate to employee well-being independent of demanding, production-focused leader behaviours. In a second study, perceived disrespectfulness mediated the relationship between exposure to negative interpersonal behaviour and well-being; workplace norms, social support, control-related self-beliefs, and negative affectivity moderated associations within the mediation sequence. Given the importance placed on objective measurement methods in the occupational stress literature, the inherent difficulties in measuring social stressors objectively, and the widespread use of self-report instruments in the literature, the second main goal of this work was to approach greater objectivity in the measurements of self-reported negative interpersonal workplace interactions. A number of approaches were used toward this end, including the development of a more objective self-report measure of interpersonal workplace behaviours, as well as the use of aggregate variables and the investigation of moderated relations within multilevel frameworks. Implications of this work and directions for further research are discussed.