Organizational Support for Strengths Use, Work Engagement, and Contextual Performance: The Moderating Role of Age
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Personal strengths are those characteristics that allow us to be at our best, that is, to deliver high performance while feeling happy and energized. Research has indicated that employees who perceive organizational support for strengths use (POSSU) display higher levels of well-being, and, in turn, performance. However, we do not yet know whether all employee groups benefit equally from the positive effects of POSSU. To fill this research gap, we introduce age as a relevant moderator that may alter the relationship between POSSU and respectively employee well-being (operationalized as work engagement in our study) and contextual performance (e.g., taking up new and challenging tasks). Building on life- and career stage theories, we expect that POSSU is more beneficial for younger employees who are still seeking to explore who they are and want to be (at work) and who are less able to use their strengths out of their own initiative. In a cross-sectional dataset of 753 Dutch employees, we found support for a moderated mediation model in which the indirect effect of POSSU on contextual performance via work engagement was moderated by age. Even though the indirect effect was significant for all age groups, it was found to be significantly stronger for younger employees. These findings highlight the relevance of focusing on individual strengths among younger employees who may be able to substantiate their tentative, positive (work) identities due to POSSU.
KeywordsAge Contextual performance Perceived organizational support for strengths use Strengths Work engagement
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