Psychosocial safety climate (PSC) arises from workplace policies, practices, and procedures for the protection of worker psychological health and safety that are largely driven by management. Many work stress theories are based on the fundamental interaction hypothesis - that a high level of job demands (D) will lead to psychological distress and that this relationship will be offset when there are high job resources (R). However we proposed that this interaction really depends on the organizational context; in particular high levels of psychosocial safety climate will enable the safe utilization of resources to reduce demands. The study sample consisted of police constables from 23 police units (stations) with longitudinal survey responses at two time points separated by 14 months (Time 1, N=319, Time 2, N=139). We used hierarchical linear modeling to assess the effect of the proposed three-way interaction term (PSC×D×R) on change in workgroup distress variance over time. Specifically we confirmed the interaction between emotional demands and emotional resources (assessed at the individual level), in the context of unit psychosocial safety climate (aggregated individual data). As predicted, high emotional resources moderated the positive relationship between emotional demands and change in workgroup distress but only when there were high levels of unit psychosocial safety climate. Results were confirmed using a split-sample analysis. Results support psychosocial safety climate as a property of the organization and a target for higher order controls for reducing work stress. The 'right' climate enables resources to do their job.
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