The purpose of this paper is to further the understanding of public sector line managers' work-related well-being and health in relation to job strain, gender and workplace social support.Design/methodology/approachAn online survey was sent to all senior and middle line managers (N = 357) in three administrative departments of Iceland's largest municipality. The response rate was 64.7%. Multivariate logistic regression was used to analyse the data.FindingsA minority of respondents experience high job strain. However, for these managers, the risk of experiencing emotional exhaustion is about fivefold, compared to those not experiencing high job strain. Social support is an important buffering against job strain and enhances well-being. Female managers are more likely than their male counterparts to report myositis, back or shoulder pain and sleeping difficulty.Practical implicationsThe study emphasises that workplace social support attenuates the negative impact of job strain on line managers' work-related well-being. Furthermore, it demonstrates that in a society at the forefront in gender equality, gender differences in health symptoms exist among line managers in the public sector – a finding that highlights the importance of studying all aspects of workplace well-being by gender. This calls for future research using a more comprehensive survey data and interviews to shed light on the pathways through which female line managers' health is negatively affected.Originality/valueKnowledge relating to well-being and health of line managers in the public sector is scarce. This study contributes to filling that gap. As work-related well-being is often gender-blind, the value of the study is also the investigation of the gender patterns in the authors’ data.
International Journal of Workplace Health Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 14, 2020
Keywords: Public sector line managers; Job strain; Gender; Well-being; Health symptoms; Workplace social support