Supervisor Autonomy and Considerate Leadership Style are Associated with Supervisors’ Likelihood to Accommodate Back Injured Workers


Purpose To determine the association between supervisors’ leadership style and autonomy and supervisors’ likelihood of supporting job accommodations for back-injured workers. Methods A cross-sectional study of supervisors from Canadian and US employers was conducted using a web-based, self-report questionnaire that included a case vignette of a back-injured worker. Autonomy and two dimensions of leadership style (considerate and initiating structure) were included as exposures. The outcome, supervisors’ likeliness to support job accommodation, was measured with the Job Accommodation Scale (JAS). We conducted univariate analyses of all variables and bivariate analyses of the JAS score with each exposure and potential confounding factor. We used multivariable generalized linear models to control for confounding factors. Results A total of 796 supervisors participated. Considerate leadership style (β = .012; 95 % CI .009–.016) and autonomy (β = .066; 95 % CI .025–.11) were positively associated with supervisors’ likelihood to accommodate after adjusting for appropriate confounding factors. An initiating structure leadership style was not significantly associated with supervisors’ likelihood to accommodate (β = .0018; 95 % CI −.0026 to .0061) after adjusting for appropriate confounders. Conclusions Autonomy and a considerate leadership style were positively associated with supervisors’ likelihood to accommodate a back-injured worker. Providing supervisors with more autonomy over decisions of accommodation and developing their considerate leadership style may aid in increasing work accommodation for back-injured workers and preventing prolonged work disability.

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    This effect is likely due to differences in accommodation law between Canada and the United States. Employers in Canada must meet a higher accommodation standard, which impacts decision-making and autonomy.


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This research was supported by Canadian Institute of Health Research Grant MOP-102571, Supervisors’ perspectives on accommodating back injured workers: A mixed methods study (PI: V Kristman) and by intramural research funding (Project LMRIS 09-01) of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety (PI: WS Shaw).

Conflict of interest

McGuire C, Kristman VL, Williams-Whitt K, Shaw W, Soklaridis S, and Reguly P declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Vicki L. Kristman.

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McGuire, C., Kristman, V.L., Shaw, W. et al. Supervisor Autonomy and Considerate Leadership Style are Associated with Supervisors’ Likelihood to Accommodate Back Injured Workers. J Occup Rehabil 25, 589–598 (2015).

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  • Supervisor
  • Job accommodation
  • Behavioral research
  • Return to work
  • Rehabilitation
  • Cross-sectional