Challenge and hindrance demands lead to employees’ health and behaviours through intrinsic motivation

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Based on the job demand-resource theory, this study examined the differential relationships of two types of job demands, challenge and hindrance stressors, with three outcomes: ill health, organizational citizenship behaviour, and work engagement. These relationships were mediated by two personal resources: psychological empowerment and organization-based self-esteem (OBSE). Data were collected at two separate points, 2 weeks apart. With 336 full-time U.S. employees, results from path analysis indicated that the challenge stressor, workload, was positively related to psychological empowerment and OBSE, both of which were in turn positively related to good work behaviours as well as negatively related to ill health, an indication that employees experienced physical symptoms and psychological strains. In contrast, hindrance stressors (role stressors and interpersonal conflict) showed the opposite patterns of relationships with these intermediate outcomes, resulting in less empowerment and OBSE. Overall, findings suggested that psychological empowerment and OBSE were important intrinsic motivational mechanisms through which some stressors (especially hindrance demands) can promote employees’ favourable work behaviours as well as alleviate the negative health outcomes.

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