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Supervisor support training effects on veteran health and work outcomes in the civilian workplace (Hammer et al., 2019)

  • Findings

    See findings section of this profile.

    Evidence Rating

    High Causal Evidence

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Hammer, L. B., Wan, W. H., Brockwood, K. J., Bodner, T., & Mohr, C. D. (2019). Supervisor support training effects on veteran health and work outcomes in the civilian workplace. Journal of Applied Psychology, 104(1), 52–69.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of Veteran-Supportive Supervisor Training (VSST) on perceived health, functional impairment, job performance, and turnover intentions of employed veterans. 

  • The primary design of the study was a cluster randomized controlled trial. The authors collected survey data before and at three and nine months after random assignment. Using a statistical model, the study authors compared the outcomes of individuals in the control group organizations to the individuals in the treatment group organizations. 

  • The study did not find any statistically significant impacts on perceived health, functional impairment, job performance, or turnover intentions.  

  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we would be confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to VSST and not to other factors. However, the study did not find statistically significant effects. 

Intervention Examined

Veteran-Supportive Supervisor Training

Features of the Intervention

The VSST intervention is based on a family-supportive supervisor behavior training intervention that has demonstrated improvements in worker health and work outcomes. The objective of VSST is to improve veteran health and work outcomes by providing trainings to their supervisors. The expectation is that such a training program would lead to a more supportive work environment through supervisors for existing and future veterans who will be entering the workforce.  

The intervention included a one-hour computer-based training, two weeks of behavior tracking, and three supplementary modules titled “Above and Beyond.” Sixteen organizations in the northwestern United States that employed veterans were randomly assigned to the treatment condition. Supervisors had one month to complete the three intervention components.  

The intervention served veteran employees who worked at least 20 hours per week at a participating organization and served in any branch of the military after December 31, 2001. The training was applicable for all supervisors regardless of whether they currently supervise a veteran. In other words, it was designed to benefit supervisors more generally and includes concepts and behaviors that apply to general supervisor support, supervisor support for family, and supervisor support for veterans and active reservists in the civilian workplace. 

Features of the Study

This study used a cluster randomized controlled trial that included 35 organizations employing veterans in the northwestern United States. Sixteen organizations employing 275 veterans were assigned to the treatment group and 19 organizations employing 222 veterans were assigned to the control group, in which organizations received no training through the duration of the study but  received the training after the study was completed. Among veterans in the treatment group, the average age was 39 85.5 percent were male, 85.3 percent were White, and 67.7 percent were college graduates.  

Using a statistical model, the study authors compared the outcomes of veterans in the treatment group organizations to those of the veterans in the control group organizations.  

Only 65 of 275 veteran participants in the treatment group were matched to a supervisor who completed the training. For this reason, the authors argue that the training intervention had minimal strength. 

Findings

  • Health and safety. The study found no statistically significant impacts on perceived health or functional impairment at either the three-month or nine-month follow-up. 

  • Productivity. The study found no statistically significant impacts on job performance at either the three-month or nine-month follow-up. 

  • Attitudes. The study found no statistically significant impacts on turnover intentions at either the three-month or nine-month follow-up. 

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

This study received the highest causal evidence rating because it was a randomized controlled trial with low attrition. However, only 23.6 percent of veteran participants in the treatment group were matched to a supervisor who completed the training.  

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we would be confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to VSST and not to other factors. However, the study did not find statistically significant effects. 

Reviewed by CLEAR

May 2021

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