A Theoretical Model of Co-worker Responses to Work Reintegration Processes
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Purpose Emerging research has shown that co-workers have a significant influence on the return-to-work outcomes of partially fit ill or injured employees. By drawing on theoretical findings from the human resource and wider behavioral sciences literatures, our goal was to formulate a theoretical model of the influences on and outcomes of co-worker responses within work reintegration. Methods From a search of 15 data bases covering the social sciences, business and medicine, we identified articles containing models of the factors that influence co-workers’ responses to disability accommodations; and, the nature and impact of co-workers’ behaviors on employee outcomes. To meet our goal, we combined identified models to form a comprehensive model of the relevant factors and relationships. Internal consistency and externally validity were assessed. Results The combined model illustrates four key findings: (1) co-workers’ behaviors towards an accommodated employee are influenced by attributes of that employee, the illness or injury, the co-worker themselves, and the work environment; (2) the influences–behaviour relationship is mediated by perceptions of the fairness of the accommodation; (3) co-workers’ behaviors affect all work reintegration outcomes; and (4) co-workers’ behaviours can vary from support to antagonism and are moderated by type of support required, the social intensity of the job, and the level of antagonism. Conclusions Theoretical models from the wider literature are useful for understanding the impact of co-workers on the work reintegration process. To achieve optimal outcomes, co-workers need to perceive the arrangements as fair. Perceptions of fairness might be supported by co-workers’ collaborative engagement in the planning, monitoring and review of work reintegration activities.
KeywordsCo-workers Fairness Return-to-work Accommodations Social environment Theory
This paper was prepared with support from a University of New England, Australia, BCSS Staff Seed Grant.
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