Work engagement and its antecedents in high-risk occupations: A police service case study

Sukanlaya Sawang, Paula Brough, Jennifer Barbour

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Introduction: Work engagement is a recent application of positive psychology and refers to a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption. Despite theoretical assumptions, there is little published research on work engagement, due primarily to its recent emergence as a psychological construct. Furthermore, examining work engagement among high-stress occupations, such as police, is useful because police officers are generally characterized as having a high level of work engagement. Previous research has identified job resources (e.g. social support) as antecedents of work engagement. However detailed evaluation of job demands as an antecedent of work engagement within high-stress occupations has been scarce. Thus our second aim was to test job demands (i.e. monitoring demands and problem-solving demands) and job resources (i.e. time control, method control, supervisory support, colleague support, and friend and family support) as antecedents of work engagement among police officers. Method: Data were collected via a self-report online survey from one Australian state police service (n = 1,419). Due to the high number of hypothesized antecedent variables, hierarchical multiple regression analysis was employed rather than structural equation modelling. Results: Work engagement reported by police officers was high. Female officers had significantly higher levels of work engagement than male officers, while officers at mid-level ranks (sergeant) reported the lowest levels of work engagement. Job resources (method control, supervisor support and colleague support) were significant antecedents of three dimensions of work engagement. Only monitoring demands were significant antecedent of the absorption. Conclusion: Having healthy and engaged police officers is important for community security and economic growth. This study identified some common factors which influence work engagement experienced by police officers. However, we also note that excessive work engagement can yield negative outcomes such as psychological distress.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventEuropean Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology - Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Duration: 13 May 200916 May 2009
Conference number: 14


ConferenceEuropean Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology
Abbreviated titleEAWOP
CitySantiago de Compostela


  • Work Engagement
  • Police Service
  • High-Risk Occupations


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