Disability severity, leader-member exchange, and attitudinal outcomes: considering the employee and supervisor perspectives

Publication type
Journal article
Lyubykh Z, Ansari MA, Williams-Whitt K, Kristman VL
Date published
2020 Mar 01
Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Open Access?

Purpose Although the effects of disability on employee work outcomes are well-documented, the mechanism that explain these relationship remains unclear. We propose that the quality of relationships employees with disabilities develop with their supervisors explains the link between disability severity and employee work outcomes. More specifically, we examine the mediating role of leader-member exchange (LMX) in the relationship between employee disability severity and presenteeism, job accommodation, supervisor-rated performance, job satisfaction, and resilience. We test this proposition from two perspectives: employees with disabilities and supervisors who had supervised employees with disabilities. Method We collected data from employees with musculoskeletal disabilities (Sample 1, N = 264) and supervisors who had supervised employees with musculoskeletal disabilities in the past two years (Sample 2, N = 224). Results From the perspective of employees with disabilities (Sample 1), disability severity was negatively related to LMX quality (R(2) = .28). Contrary to our hypothesis, we found a positive relationship between supervisor perceptions of employee disability severity and LMX in Sample 2 (R(2) = .27). After adjusting for disability severity, LMX quality was related to improved outcomes in both samples: higher employee job satisfaction (Sample 1: R(2) = .36), provision of job accommodations (Sample 1: R(2) = .16; Sample 2: R(2)= .15), resilience (Sample 1: R(2) = .18), lower levels of presenteeism (Sample 1: R(2) = .20), and higher performance evaluations for employees with disabilities (Sample 2: R(2) = .49). Conclusion By collecting two separate samples, we revealed similarities and differences in employee and supervisor perspectives. Our findings demonstrated the need for including both perspectives when considering implications of employee disability severity