Psychosocial Working Conditions Among High-Skilled Workers: A Latent Transition Analysis

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Abstract

Theories of psychosocial working conditions assume an interaction of different work environment characteristics. Most studies detail various aspects of such interactions, while fewer investigate the comprehensive patterns of interrelated variables. This exploratory study distinguishes patterns of psychosocial working conditions, describes their characteristics, and investigates their change over 6 years. The working conditions of 1,744 high-skilled workers in Sweden, of a representative sample of the working population, were empirically classified into 4 distinct patterns: (a) the Supporting pattern with a very low workload, very low time pressure, medium learning opportunities, high creativity requirements, and very high autonomy; (b) the Constraining pattern with a very low workload, very low time pressure, low learning opportunities, medium creativity requirements, and very low autonomy; (c) the Demanding pattern with a high workload, high time pressure, medium learning opportunities, high creativity requirements, and very low autonomy; and (d) the Challenging pattern with a high workload, high time pressure, very high learning opportunities, very high creativity requirements, and very high autonomy. Importantly, these patterns were associated with significant differences in worker well-being. From an individual perspective, working conditions most often changed from patterns with a high workload and time pressure to patterns with lower levels of these demands. Over time, the prevalence of the Constraining pattern increased while that of the Challenging pattern decreased. To conclude, a person-centered approach broadens the understanding of the complex interplay between psychosocial working conditions and their longitudinal change, which can improve the tailoring of occupational health interventions.

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