A Theoretical Model of Co-worker Responses to Work Reintegration Processes
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PURPOSE: Emerging research has shown that co-workers have a significant influence on the return-to-work outcomes of partially fit ill or injured employees. By drawing on theoretical findings from the human resource and wider behavioral sciences literatures, our goal was to formulate a theoretical model of the influences on and outcomes of co-worker responses within work reintegration. METHODS: From a search of 15 data bases covering the social sciences, business and medicine, we identified articles containing models of the factors that influence co-workers' responses to disability accommodations; and, the nature and impact of co-workers' behaviors on employee outcomes. To meet our goal, we combined identified models to form a comprehensive model of the relevant factors and relationships. Internal consistency and externally validity were assessed. RESULTS: The combined model illustrates four key findings: (1) co-workers' behaviors towards an accommodated employee are influenced by attributes of that employee, the illness or injury, the co-worker themselves, and the work environment; (2) the influences-behaviour relationship is mediated by perceptions of the fairness of the accommodation; (3) co-workers' behaviors affect all work reintegration outcomes; and (4) co-workers' behaviours can vary from support to antagonism and are moderated by type of support required, the social intensity of the job, and the level of antagonism. CONCLUSIONS: Theoretical models from the wider literature are useful for understanding the impact of co-workers on the work reintegration process. To achieve optimal outcomes, co-workers need to perceive the arrangements as fair. Perceptions of fairness might be supported by co-workers' collaborative engagement in the planning, monitoring and review of work reintegration activities.