Date of Award

8-1-2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Komarraju, Meera

Abstract

The purpose of this applied study was to examine the role of mentoring relationships in shaping employees’ views of how supportive the organization is of the employee and how engaged the employee is in their job duties. The extent to which employees perceive the organization as supportive was also examined as a mediator between mentoring functions and employee engagement. Employee engagement encompasses how much employees are absorbed with, excited by, and dedicated to their work. Previous research suggests that leaders and other high-status employees can increase employees’ perceptions of organizational support (Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchinson, & Sowa, 1986; Kurtessessi et al., 2017; Orpen, 1997; Park, Newman, Zhang, Wu, & Hook, 2016; Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002). Likewise, perceived organizational support (POS) has been shown to increase employee engagement (Biswas & Bhatnagar, 2013; Gupta, Argarwal, & Khatri, 2016; Saks, 2006). However, there is little research that considers mentoring as a mechanism to increase both POS and employee engagement. Surveys including instruments measuring perceptions of mentoring functions (i.e., Academic Mentoring Behavior Scale), POS (i.e, the Scale of Perceived Organizational Support), and employee engagement (i.e., Utretch Work Engagement Scale-9) were completed by 2,326 participants across nine universities in the state of Illinois. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to assess the differences in POS and employee engagement between mentored and non-mentored individuals and to assess the impact of gender and racial/ ethnic background on perceptions of mentoring functions. Lastly, a mediation analysis with POS mediating the relationship between employee engagement and mentoring was conducted. Results showed that mentored individuals had significantly higher levels of POS and employee engagement than non-mentored individuals regardless of their job positions. However, neither gender nor racial/ethnic background significantly predicted participants’ perceptions of mentoring functions. Finally, POS partially mediated the relationship between employee engagement and mentoring. These results suggest that mentoring can increase employees' perceptions of being appreciated, noticed, and cared for by employers and this could partially explain why employees may be more inspired by, enthusiastic about, and proud of their work when involved in mentoring relationships.

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