Clarifying the Link Between Job Satisfaction and Absenteeism: The Role of Guilt Proneness

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Abstract

We propose that the relationship between job satisfaction and absenteeism depends partly on guilt proneness. Drawing on withdrawal and process models of absenteeism, we argue that job satisfaction predicts absences for employees who are low (but not high) in guilt proneness because low guilt-prone people’s behaviors are governed more by fulfilling their own egoistic desires than by fulfilling others’ normative expectations. We find support for this prediction in a sample of customer service agents working for a major telecommunications company and a sample of working adults employed in a range of industries. In each study, we use measures of employees’ guilt proneness and job satisfaction to predict their subsequent workplace absences. In Study 2, we extend our hypothesis tests to 2 traits that are conceptually comparable to guilt proneness (i.e., moral identity and agreeableness), showing that these traits similarly moderate the relationship between job satisfaction and absenteeism. We discuss the implications of these findings for extant models of absenteeism and research on moral affectivity in the workplace.

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