Academic journal article Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies

Job Demands and Job Resources in Human Service Managerial Work an External Assessment through Work Content Analysis

Academic journal article Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies

Job Demands and Job Resources in Human Service Managerial Work an External Assessment through Work Content Analysis

Article excerpt

Introduction

A well-functioning management is a precondition for healthy and productive organizations. Since managers constitute a part of their subordinates' work environment, creating good working conditions for managers is thus not only a matter of improving the work situation for this group of influential people, but it is also an indirect way to care for the working conditions and occupational health of all employees, and ultimately a way to promote work engagement and organizational performance (e.g., Dellve et al., 2007; Hargreaves & Fink, 2004; Nyberg, 2009).

Managerial work in human service organizations has changed during recent decades (Ball, 2003; Trydegârd, 2000). Recent evidence from the human service sector points to a troublesome work situation, and to the problems of attracting and retaining skilled managers (Arman et al., 2009; Corin et al., 2016; Danielson et al., 2012; Höckertin, 2007; Skagert et al., 2012). First-line managers of human service organizations are particularly exposed and in disadvantageous work situations (e.g., Berntson et al., 2012; Björk, 2013). Recently, the theoretical and empirical insights from over 40 years of work stress research have developed into the job demandsresources (JD-R) model (Demerouti et al., 2001). To our knowledge, no studies have yet made comprehensive qualitative use of the JD-R model in first-level human services managerial work.

Here, we assess the job demands and job resources as well as the balance between them in first-level human service managerial work. The study applies the work content analysis method using the JD-R framework as a theoretical and analytical tool.

With qualitative interviews, following the work content analysis method, the job demands and job resources were addressed using an external perspective with the least possible consideration of emotional appraisals from the worker.

Theoretical Framework

The Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) Model

The JD-R model that was developed by Demerouti and colleagues in 2001 takes a balanced approach in explaining negative as well as positive aspects of occupational wellbeing, and the model has gained considerable empirical support (for an overview, see e.g., Schaufeli & Taris, 2014). Job demands and job resources are assumed to cause two separate psychological processes. Job demands cost effort and consume resources, while job resources fulfill basic psychological needs (e.g., Bakker, 2011). Job demands are potential contributors to a health impairment process, whereas job resources facilitate the achievement of objectives and thus increase engagement and commitment through a motivational process (Bakker et al, 2010; Van den Broeck et al., 2013). More recent studies have also revealed interactions between these processes where job resources, for example, have been shown to buffer high job demands and thus protect from health problems (Bakker et al., 2005; Llorens et al., 2006).

The JD-R model is based on various instruments and measures that should be adapted and tailored to specific populations (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Previous JD-R studies of public sector employees, some of them also including managers, have mainly emphasized the following job demands: workload, emotional demands, cognitive demands, role conflict, and role ambiguity (Dollard & Bakker, 2010; Lizano & Mor Barak, 2012; Van den Broeck et al., 2012). Job resources in this specific setting have largely included decision authority, skill utilization, organizational and supervisory support, social support from, for example, colleagues, performance feedback, and professional development (Bakker & Xanthapolou, 2013; Dollard & Bakker, 2010; Lizano & Mor Barak, 2012; Van den Broeck et al., 2012).

The studies have mainly been performed through self-reported survey data. However, a common methodological problem is whether working conditions are correctly reported, over-reported, or underestimated (Theorell & Hasselhorn, 2005). …

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