Why High Self-Esteem Makes for Employees of Your Dreams

Topic: CultureJob AttitudesWorkplace Deviance
Publication:  Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Article: Organizational supports and organizational deviance: The mediating role of organization-based self-esteem.
Author: D.L. Ferris, D.J. Brown, D. Heller
Featured by: Benjamin Granger

Organizational deviance such as employee theft (stealing, surfing the web), unexcused absences, and taking long breaks, cost organizations millions of dollars. Fortunately, research has found that  supportive work environments make deviant behaviors less likely. But, it is unclear why supportive work environments lead employees to engage in fewer
deviant behaviors. Researchers Ferris, Brown, and Heller (2009) collected data from 237 employees working in a variety of industries to answer this question.

As expected, Ferris and colleagues found that positive perceptions of organizational support (i.e., in general, employees feel supported by their organizations) and positive perceptions of immediate supervisors (Leader-member exchange) reduced the occurrence of deviant behaviors in the workplace.

However, the authors were primarily interested in uncovering the reason why this relationship exists.  Ferris et al.’s findings suggest that the mechanism is organization-based self-esteem (OBSE).

This finding suggests that when employees feel that their organization and immediate supervisors are supportive, their OBSE increases. This increase in OBSE is what leads employees to engage in fewer deviant behaviors at work.

The upshot is clear:  Among the numerous benefits of facilitating supportive work climates (e.g., committed and satisfied employees), organizations that encourage supportive work environments likely influence the OBSE of its employees.  More importantly, employees that derive high self-esteem from their organization tend to engage in fewer deviant behaviors, which will ultimately influence the organization’s bottom line.

Ferris, D.L., Brown, D.J., & Heller, D. (2009). Organizational supports and organizational
deviance: The mediating role of organization-based self-esteem. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 108, 279-286.