Offering tense employees support leads to better productivity

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 29, 2013 06:50 hrs

When a worker's supervisor offers emotional and instrumental support, the employee is more likely to recover without needing to take that extra afternoon or day off.

The study, conducted by Dr. Michal Biron of the University of Haifa's Graduate School of Management, set out to examine what interpersonal workplace dynamics influence worker's "burnout" symptoms and whether they have an effect on when the person ultimately takes a sick leave to recover.

The study was done in a manufacturing enterprise in China and examined a sample group of 241 workers.

As the study explains, in China there is a significant distance between supervisor and employee, making it a particularly relevant context to examine the role of supervisor support relating to absenteeism.

The workers were asked to report on common somatic symptoms, like headaches or muscle soreness, which they experienced over the past month and to indicate how often their supervisor provided them with emotional and instrumental support once they experienced physical symptoms of stress.

The findings showed that support from a supervisor when an employee experiences psychosomatic symptoms of stress can make a lot of difference.

This happens because the employee feels more inclined to reciprocate the supportive treatment by keeping their work effort high.

"The worker who is given this sort of support is more likely to overcome the somatic stress and continue to work productively, leaving recovery for the normal after-work hours when we recharge our batteries," Biron said.

A worker who develops the somatic symptoms of stress and does not receive this kind of support from the employer could stay at work out of fear for their position.

The study also shows, this worker is also less likely to be able to shake off the symptoms and will in due course need more sickness absence.

The study has been published in European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. (ANI)

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