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Self-Compassion at Work: An AET Perspective of How and When Self-Compassion Promotes Employee Well-Being

IDA alumna and former editor of this blog Zeynep Saruhanlioglu presented her Master thesis at the graduation ceremony of the IDA cohort 2021-2023.

The modern workplace provides abundant resources and opportunities but comes with increased complexity, demanding employees to navigate stressful situations. Within this context, self-compassion has gained attention due to its desirable associations with self-regulation and wellbeing. This study aimed to contribute to the growing literature on self-compassion and employee well-being. It explored how self-compassion influences reactions to negative work-related events and its connection to employee well-being. It drew on the Process Model of Affective Response, an extended version of Affective Events Theory. A convenience sample of 153 knowledge work employees completed the cross-sectional survey to investigate the moderating effect of self-compassion on the link between (a) work events and affective reactions, as well as (b) affective reactions and well-being (work engagement and burnout). Structural equation modeling results showed that negative work events were related to lower well-being, fully mediated by heightened negative affective reactions. Self-compassion moderated the former link such that higher self-compassion was related to lower negative reactions to negative work events. Exploratory analyses revealed that self-coldness intensified the positive relationship between affective events and reactions, while self-warmth did not have a moderating effect. The results did not support the moderating role of self-compassion, self-coldness, or self-warmth in the link between (a) affective reactions and burnout and (b) affective reactions and work engagement. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed. 

Keywords: affective events theory, self-compassion, self-kindness, self-coldness, employee well-being

Zeynep is now continuing her academic career as a PhD candidate at Tilburg University. Congratulations Zeynep and best of luck with your new position!

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