Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 428–437 | Cite as

Leadership Effectiveness: A Supervisor’s Approach to Manage Return to Work

  • J. A. H. Schreuder
  • J. W. Groothoff
  • D. Jongsma
  • N. F. van Zweeden
  • J. J. L. van der Klink
  • C. A. M. Roelen


Purpose To investigate adaptive leadership in relation to personnel sickness absence (SA). In situational leadership, supervisors are effective if they adapt their leadership style appropriately to a given situation. Methods A managerial reorganization in a Dutch hospital with reassignment of supervisors provided the opportunity to compare SA in the same wards while under the leadership of different supervisors. Leadership effectiveness was measured with the Leader Effectiveness and Adaptability Description (LEAD). Personnel SA was retrieved from employer’s records and cumulated at the individual level, distinguishing between short-term (1–7 day) and long-term (>7 days) SA. Cumulated SA days and mean SA lengths before and after managerial reorganization were compared at the individual level by using non-parametric paired statistical analyses. Employer’s costs to compensate sick-listed employees’ salaries before and after reorganization were cumulated and compared at ward level by using non-parametric statistics. Results 6 wards (N = 403) retained the same supervisor, 6 wards (N = 504) were assigned more effective supervisors, and 4 wards (N = 184) got less effective supervisors than the ones before reorganization. Cumulated short-term SA days and lengths did not change with leadership effectiveness. Employees who got more effective supervisors had fewer long-term SA days and shorter long-term SA lengths than before reorganization. More effective supervisors saved an average of 21,368 Euros per ward, particularly due to less long-term SA. Conclusions Long-term SA was shorter after employees got more effective supervisors. Adaptive supervisors can facilitate return to work and save SA costs by providing the right type of support to sick-listed employees.


Absenteeism Employer Healthcare Management Sick leave Situational leadership 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. H. Schreuder
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. W. Groothoff
    • 1
  • D. Jongsma
    • 2
  • N. F. van Zweeden
    • 2
  • J. J. L. van der Klink
    • 1
  • C. A. M. Roelen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Health Sciences, University Medical Centre GroningenUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Nij Smellinghe HospitalDrachtenThe Netherlands

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