Supervisors' Active-Empathetic Listening as an Important Antecedent of Work Engagement

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 30;17(21):7976. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17217976.


Social support from supervisors is a job resource that has been found to be an important antecedent to work engagement. However, there is a knowledge gap in understanding one of the key features of social support-i.e., supervisors' active-empathetic listening-and its relation to employees' work engagement. To bridge this gap, this study explores how supervisors' active-empathetic listening is associated with employees' work engagement. Using a national representative sample (N = 548), the results show that supervisors' active-empathetic listening has a significant positive relationship with employee work engagement. Additionally, we show that active-empathetic listening does not affect all three dimensions of work engagement equally, with dedication being the most affected by supervisors' active-empathetic listening. We argue that supportive leadership which uses conscious and active listening-centred communication is highly significant for employees' work engagement. Therefore, we suggest that organisations experiment in training their supervisors in active-empathetic listening as part of a broader strategy to increase employees' engagement at work.

Keywords: active-empathetic listening; social support; supervisor; work engagement; work-related well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Empathy*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Nursing, Supervisory*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Social Support
  • Work Engagement*