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Workplace hierarchical plateau and employees' work engagement: Mediating effect of forgone identity dwelling

Tuwei Sun, Zhen Li

Abstract: In the workplace, a lack of promotion opportunities causes a hierarchical plateau for some employees, which can lead to decreased work engagement. Using conservation of resources theory, we proposed that employees' repetitive and circular reflection on their work identity (forgone work identity) would mediate the relationship between hierarchical plateau and work engagement. We also argued that promotion regulatory focus could serve as a moderator in this relationship. We collected data from 423 Chinese employees via an online survey conducted in two waves. Results showed that hierarchical plateau was negatively related to work engagement, and forgone identity dwelling mediated this relationship. Additionally, promotion regulatory focus moderated the indirect relationship, such that the mediating effect was significant only for employees with high promotion regulatory focus. These findings highlight the need to consider forgone work identity when examining the negative effects of a hierarchical plateau on work attitudes and behaviors.
Keywords: forgone / work engagement / hierarchical plateau / regulatory focus / work identity / promotion regulatory / mediating effect / Workplace

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