Police work has long been recognised as a stressful and demanding occupation, and occupational health research has predominantly focused on identifying factors that relate to work-related stress within the police. Adopting a positive approach, Anya Moore, Assistant Business Psychologist, conducted a research project this Summer on work engagement within a UK Police Force. Key findings revealed that job resources and demands, psychological capital, job crafting behaviours, gender and rank significantly impact levels of work engagement.
Work engagement is a positive state of mind characterised by:
Work engagement is linked to greater job satisfaction, organisational commitment, willingness to learn, improved health and lower intention to quit, as well as organisational success1,2. With the aim of enhancing work engagement and its positive outcomes, Anya explored possible antecedents of engagement in the Police, specifically Job resources3, Psychological capital4, and Job crafting5 which have previously been found to be essential factors in explaining work engagement.
The Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model6, a widely used and recognised model on occupational wellbeing, provided the theoretical framework for Anya’s study. This model proposes that job demands and resources trigger two processes:
In addition to these two processes, the model proposes that job demands, and resources interact in predicting well-being outcomes. The first proposed interaction is one in which resources reduce the negative impact of job demands on strain, i.e. employees with higher levels of job resources deal better with their daily job demands. The second interaction is one in which the positive relationship between job resources and work engagement is the strongest when job demands are high.
Demerouti & Bakker (2011) Job Demands-Resources Model
Based on this model, Anya hypothesised that work engagement would be positively related to the job resources of job control, peer support, manager support, the personal resource of Psychological capital and job crafting and that these relationships would be strongest when job demands are high.
Anya collected data from 111 Police staff of various ranks who completed an online questionnaire and the data was analysed through detailed statistical analysis techniques. The sample included police constables, sergeants, inspectors, superintendents and general staff.
In line with her hypotheses, Anya found work engagement to be significantly and positively related to job resources (job control, peer support and manager support), Psychological capital and job crafting behaviours. This indicates that police personnel with higher levels of PsyCap, perceived job resources and job crafting behaviours, experience higher levels of work engagement. These positive relationships were also found to be strongest when perceived job demands were high, supporting the JD-R theory.
PsyCap emerged as the strongest predictor of work engagement and job control had the weakest direct effect on work engagement. However, job control was found to have a significant indirect effect on work engagement through job crafting, suggesting that job control is a pre-requisite for job crafting to take place which will further enhance employee work engagement.
Finally, the study revealed significantly different levels of perceived job control, job crafting behaviours, PsyCap and work engagement across ranks and gender. For example, Police constables were found to have the least control of their work and had lower levels of PsyCap, job crafting behaviour and work engagement, whereas sergeants had the most control and higher levels respectively. Females appeared to outperform males on the job crafting behaviours of increasing structural and social job resources. Research suggests that women are offered fewer challenging work experiences than males so manage their experiences more proactively than men to advance themselves.
These findings provide important information to guide the design of interventions aimed at improving levels of work engagement in the field of policing. To find out more about work engagement and how Impact – Psychology for Business can help your workplace develop the positive resources discussed in this study, contact [email protected].
1. Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & Sanz-Vergel, A. I. (2014). Burnout and work engagement: The JD–R approach. Rev. Organ. Psychol. Organ. Behav., 1(1), 389-411.
2. Srikanth, C. P., & Saraswathi, A. B. EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AS A DRIVER FOR THE ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE.
3. Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2008). Towards a model of work engagement. Career development international, 13(3), 209-223.
4. Alessandri, G., Consiglio, C., Luthans, F., & Borgogni, L. (2018). Testing a dynamic model of the impact of psychological capital on work engagement and job performance. Career Development International, 23(1), 33-47.
5. Hakanen, J. J., Seppälä, P., & Peeters, M. C. (2017). High job demands, still engaged and not burned out? The role of job crafting. International journal of behavioral medicine, 24(4), 619-627.
6. Demerouti, E., & Bakker, A. B. (2011). The job demands-resources model: Challenges for future research. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 37(2), 01-09.