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Task-level work engagement of self-employed and organizationally employed high-skilled workers

Aleksandra Bujacz (Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden) (Department of Work, Organizational and Business Psychology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany)
Claudia Bernhard-Oettel (Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)
Thomas Rigotti (Department of Work, Organizational and Business Psychology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany)
Petra Lindfors (Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 9 October 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Self-employed workers typically report higher well-being levels than employees. The purpose of this paper is to examine the mechanisms that lead to differences in work engagement between self-employed and organizationally employed high-skilled workers.

Design/methodology/approach

Self-employed and organizationally employed high-skilled workers (N=167) were compared using a multigroup multilevel analysis. Participants assessed their job control (general level) and reported their work engagement during work tasks (task level) by means of the Day Reconstruction Method. Aspects of job control (autonomy, creativity, and learning opportunities) and task characteristics (social tasks and core work tasks) were contrasted for the two groups as predictors of work engagement.

Findings

Self-employed workers reported higher levels of job control and work engagement than organizationally employed workers. In both groups, job control predicted work engagement. Employees with more opportunities to be creative and autonomous were more engaged at work. Self-employed workers were more engaged when they had more learning opportunities. On the task level, the self-employed were more engaged during core work tasks and social tasks.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that self-employment is an effective way for high-skilled workers to increase the amount of job control available to them, and to improve their work engagement. From an intervention perspective, self-employed workers may benefit most from more learning opportunities, more social tasks, and more core work tasks. Organizationally employed workers may appreciate more autonomy and opportunities for creativity.

Originality/value

This study contributes to a better understanding of the role that job control and task characteristics play in predicting the work engagement of high-skilled self-employed and organizationally employed workers.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research project was financially supported by Stockholm Stress Center, a FORTE center of excellence, and by a scholarship from the Swedish Institute within the Visby Program awarded to the first author.

Citation

Bujacz, A., Bernhard-Oettel, C., Rigotti, T. and Lindfors, P. (2017), "Task-level work engagement of self-employed and organizationally employed high-skilled workers", Career Development International, Vol. 22 No. 6, pp. 724-738. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-05-2016-0083

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited