Can mentoring reduce social stressors through socialization? : a longitudinal study of mentoring as a primary intervention strategy
Bailey, Sarah Frances
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Low intensity social stressors (i.e., social undermining, incivility, and interpersonal conflict) have been shown to have a strong impact on employee health and behavior. Newer employees who are learning the organization may be especially affected by these social stressors, as they are still learning how to navigate their work environment. Although research has demonstrated mentoring as strategy for helping employees cope with stressors, there has been a lack of research on how mentoring may also reduce the occurrence of social stressors. Drawing from the Conservation of Resources theory of job stressors, mentoring can be conceptualized as a strategy for building employees' interpersonal resources through socialization, thereby reducing the occurrence of social stressors. Although mentoring predicts socialization, it has not been empirically examined in relation to predicting social stressor experiences over time. As such, this study improves on past research by examining the mediated relationships among mentoring, socialization, and social stressors in a longitudinal study design. In this study, 272 full-time employees were recruited to report on their mentoring, socialization, and social stressor experiences across three time points with a six-week lag between each time point (with a total time lag of three months from Time 1 to Time 3). In a final sample of 90 employees, regression models controlling for within-phase and within-variable relationships were used to meet the temporal and statistical assumptions for longitudinal, causal mediation. There were no causal relationships between mentoring, socialization, and social stressors. However, there was a direct reverse lag effect of phase 1 social undermining and incivility negatively predicting phase 3 mentoring. Cross-phase analyses demonstrated that socialization was negatively related to social stressors. There were frequently significant indirect relationships between mentoring and social stressors in the exploratory within-phase analyses. Mentoring was not significantly related to socialization or social stressors, which suggests that it is limited as a primary intervention. Examining the utility of primary stressor interventions informs how effective various interventions are at preventing social stressors.