Longitudinal associations between organizational change, work-unit social capital, and employee exit from the work unit among public healthcare workers: A mediation analysis

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Objectives Organizational changes are associated with higher rates of subsequent employee exit from the workplace, but the mediating role of social capital is unknown. We examined the associations between organizational changes and subsequent employee exit from the work unit and mediation through social capital. Methods Throughout 2013, 14 059 healthcare employees worked in the Capital Region of Denmark. Data on work-unit changes (yes/no) from July‒December 2013 were collected via a survey distributed to all managers (merger, split-up, relocation, change of management, employee layoff, budget cuts). Eight employee-reported items assessing social capital were aggregated into work-unit measures (quartiles: low-high). Data on employee exit from the work unit in 2014 were obtained from company registries. Results We found a somewhat higher rate of employee exit from the work unit after changes versus no changes [hazard ratio (HR) 1.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01-1.19] and an inverse dose‒response relationship between social capital and employee-exit rates (low versus high: HR 1.65, 95% CI 1.46-1.86). We also showed a higher risk of low social capital in work units exposed to changes [low versus high: odds ratio (OR) 2.04, 95% CI 1.86-2.23]. Accounting for potential mediation through social capital seemed slightly to reduce the association between changes and employee-exit rates (HR 1.07, 95% CI 0.98-1.16 versus HR 1.10). Conclusions Work-unit organizational changes prospectively predict lower work-unit social capital, and lower social capital is associated with higher employee-exit rates. Detection of weak indications of mediation through social capital, if any, were limited by inconsistent associations between changes and employee exit from the work unit.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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