The Reciprocal Relationship Between Work Characteristics and Employee Burnout and Engagement: A Longitudinal Study of Firefighters

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Abstract

The paradigm of this study is positive occupational psychology, with the job demands-resources model as the research model and the Conservation of Resources theory as the general stress theory. The research design analyses the job demands-resources model's dynamic nature with normal and reversed causation effects between work characteristics and psychological well-being among Portuguese firefighters. In addition, we analyse a positive (engagement) dimension and a negative (burnout) dimension in the firefighters' well-being, because previously, studies have merely focused on the strain or stress of these professionals. The research questionnaire was distributed to a sample of 651 firefighters, and a two-wave full panel design was used. Cross-lagged panel analyses indicated that the causal direction of the relationship between organizational demands and burnout is reciprocal. Also, we found that the reciprocal model, including cross-lagged reciprocal relationships between organizational demands/supervisory support and burnout/engagement, respectively, is what fits the data best. Practical implications to develop organizational change programmes and suggestions for future research regarding the promotion of occupational health are discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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