Empowering public service workers to face bystander conflict: Enhancing resources through a training intervention

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Abstract

Public service employees work in occupations that are accompanied with high psychosocial risks. Police, firefighters, and paramedics are increasingly being confronted with argumentative, conflicting bystanders that frustrate them in executing their task. We developed a resource-enhancement intervention and tested its usefulness for securing employees’ effective functioning and well-being in bystander conflict. In a simulation-based pre-test post-test control group design, paramedics in the intervention condition received training about how to increase their resources in terms of conflict management efficacy, perspective taking, task support, and emotional support. For those in the control condition, no such training was provided. Comparing pre- and post-test measures (n = 81) of the participants in the intervention and control groups, we found evidence that the intervention successfully increased employees’ resources over time. Moreover, we found considerable support for a positive link between these resources and employees’ affective well-being and job dedication. Thus, our study suggests that a resource-enhancing intervention can serve as an important means to protect public service employees against the deleterious effects of bystander conflict. Practitioner points: A resource-enhancing intervention can protect public service employees against the deleterious effects of bystander conflict. Resources related to dealing with a hindering bystander, as well as resources facilitating the continuation of the primary task, are positively associated with employees’ affective well-being, job dedication, and job performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-109
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Volume91
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Keywords

  • affect
  • bystander conflict
  • conflict handling efficacy
  • conflict management
  • emotional support
  • employee well-being
  • empower
  • job dedication
  • performance
  • perspective taking
  • public service employees
  • resource-enhancing intervention
  • resources
  • task support
  • team effectiveness
  • team situational awareness

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