Let My People Go Home Sick: Developing a Health-Specific Form of Transformational Leadership to Examine Employee Presenteeism and Coworker Support



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Employee presenteeism, the act of showing up to work when one is ill, is a major problem in companies. However, research on its prevention is sparse and conflicting. Using transformational leadership theory (Bass, 1985), I developed and tested an occupational health specific form of transformational leadership that aimed to reduce follower presenteeism. Occupational health specific transformational leadership (OHSTL) was designed to influence the values of health and well-being for employees, labeled health consciousness in this study. However, results suggest that OHSTL is positively associated with presenteeism, as well as favorable attitudes towards and intentions to engage in presenteeism. Additionally, there was only one mediation effect found, where OHSTL was positively associated with favorable attitudes toward presenteeism through health consciousness. However, alternative analyses using time one data only, suggest that OHSTL may negatively influence attitudes towards presenteeism through health consciousness, presenting a contradictory finding. Despite these findings, coworker support moderated the relationship between OHSTL and presenteeism, such that high levels of both OHSTL and coworker support were associated with reduced attitudes and intentions towards presenteeism. Without the support of coworkers, OHSTL is associated with increased levels of presenteeism. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.



Presenteeism, Transformational leadership, Coworkers, Support