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Work changes and employee age, maladaptive coping expectations, and well-being: a Swedish cohort study

, Michelle Van Laethem, Constanze Leineweber, Hugo Westerlund

Abstract: Purpose: Older workers are expected to suffer more from work changes than younger ones, but empirical evidence is lacking. Negative responses to work changes may result rather from maladaptive coping expectations. This study examined possible age differences in job and life satisfaction, and sleep disturbances, after work changes (voluntary and involuntary job changes, reorganizations) and the moderating role of maladaptive coping expectations. Methods: Four biennial waves from the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health (SLOSH) including respondents who participated in all four waves (n = 3084). We used multilevel path analyses to estimate direct and moderated relationships between work changes and outcomes. Results: Involuntary job changes were associated with lower job and life satisfaction and more sleep disturbances. Reorganizations were only associated with lower job satisfaction. Older employees were more satisfied with their jobs and lives than younger employees and experienced more sleep disturbances. After involuntary job changes, older employees had similar (lower) levels of well-being as younger ones, but they reported more sleep disturbances when having experienced reorganizations. Maladaptive coping expectations were related to lower job and life satisfaction and more sleep disturbances. Employees with maladaptive coping expectations reported more sleep disturbances after involuntary job changes and reorganizations. Conclusion: Our results suggest that there are few age differences in well-being after work changes. Employee well-being seems to mostly depend on maladaptive coping expectations. Organizations aiming to prepare employees for job changes and reorganizations could focus their efforts on employees with maladaptive expectations rather than on older ones.
Keywords: Aging / Maladaptive coping expectations / Reorganization / Job changes / Satisfaction / Sleep disturbances

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