Examining boss phubbing and employee outcomes through the lens of affective events theory

Muhammad Nawaz Khan*, Khurram Shahzad, Jos Bartels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In this study, the impact of boss phubbing, or using a phone during interaction with subordinates, on important employee outcomes — work meaningfulness and employee phubbing behavior — through the mediating role of self-esteem threat was investigated using affective events theory. The moderating role of rejection sensitivity was also examined.

Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected in three time lags from head nurses (N = 178) working in public and private hospitals. The hypothesized relationships were tested using variance-based structural equation modeling with partial least squares.

Findings: Boss phubbing negatively affected employees' sense of work meaningfulness and had a positive direct and indirect relationship with employee phubbing behavior through self-esteem threat. The hypothesized moderating role of rejection sensitivity was not supported.

Practical implications: The authors recommend that organizations develop policies addressing boss phubbing in the workplace, particularly in contexts in which a high leader–member exchange is desired for organizational effectiveness, such as health-related services. Superiors, such as doctors, should review their mobile phone usage during interactions with subordinates because it is detrimental to employee outcomes.

Originality/value: This study is a nascent attempt to test the hypothesized relationships on the emerging phenomenon of phubbing at work in the human–computer interaction domain in Pakistan, a developing country, particularly in hospital settings where a high leader–member exchange is pivotal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-900
Number of pages24
JournalAslib Journal of Information Management
Issue number5
Early online date21 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences

User-Defined Keywords

  • Boss phubbing
  • Employee phubbing behavior
  • Medical professionals
  • Rejection sensitivity
  • Self-esteem threat
  • Work meaningfulness


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