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The Role of the work environment in the psychological well-being and distress of stressed female clerical workers Neill, Caroline Catherine Carragher


The purpose of this study was to examine the way the work environment contributes to clerical workers' psychological well-being and distress. Given recent changes to clerical workers' occupational context (e.g., increased workload, job insecurity), specific dimensions of the work environment were expected to predict both job satisfaction and depression. Data were collected longitudinally on three occasions (1 month apart) from two samples (N=223; N=2Q1, respectively) of stressed female clerical workers. Phase 1 established the factorial structure of the shortened version of the Work Environment Scale (Billings & Moos, 1982). The hypothesized two-factor structure (social resources, work demands) was not supported by Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA). Further Exploratory Factor Analysis and CFA revealed a three-factor structure: Organizational Support (job involvement, peer cohesion, supervisor support, autonomy, and work clarity), Work Pressure, and Managerial Control. The results partially supported Moos's (1981) three-dimensional work environment model. Based on the results of Phase 1, in Phase 2,1 examined the extent to which Organizational Support, Work Pressure, and Managerial Control predicted job satisfaction and depression, statistically controlling for demographic variables and negative affectivity (only in Sample 2). Hierarchical multiple regression supported the hypotheses that Organizational Support predicted greater job satisfaction in both samples and less depression for Sample 1 only. Unexpectedly, Work Pressure and Managerial Control were not linearly related to job satisfaction or depression. Path analysis revealed that job satisfaction mediated the Organizational Support-depression relationship, but only for Sample 1, partially supporting the hypothesis. Exploratory analyses revealed that the moderating effects of Organizational Support on the work demands-job satisfaction or depression relationships were not statistically significant. However, union membership was associated with greater job dissatisfaction. Of note, components of the Organizational Support subscale reflect characteristics of the work environment that enhance clerical workers feelings of being valued and respected for their contributions to the workplace. Thus, creating opportunities for organizational support may be important to administrators who wish to design a psychologically healthy work environment for clerical workers. Finally, the role of job satisfaction in mediating the relationship between organizational support and depression is an important finding, and warrants further study.

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