Employees with supportive bosses are less likely to take days off than those with difficult employers, a new study from Haifa University in Israel shows.
When supervisor offers emotional and instrumental support, employees are more likely to recover without needing to take that extra afternoon or day off. The study establishes a clear link between good interpersonal workplace dynamics and employees health.
According to the study, the U.S. is losing approximately $225.8 billion per year due to workforce absenteeism. The study was conducted by Dr. Michal Biron, Academic Head of the MBA program, with an emphasis on Strategic Human Resource Management. It set out to examine whether workplace dynamics have an effect on the individual’s need to take time at home to recover.
Biron tells NoCamels: “I decided to initiate this research because I thought it is important to examine the degree to which social support received from different sources – supervisor and co-workers – plays a buffering role at different points in the strain-health relationship.”
The research focuses on the nature of peer relations in the workplace as well as employee-supervisor relations – and the implications of such relations for individuals and organizations. Biron adds: “I tried to examine whether supervisor and co-worker support, differ in the way they interact with need for recovery to affect somatic symptoms.”
Data was collected from 241 full-time employees who had worked for at least one year in the headquarters of a state-owned manufacturing enterprise located in Jiangsu Province, China.
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Biron explains that “study variables such as need for recovery, support and somatic symptoms, were measured using previously validated, reliable measures. Absence data was provided by the employer.”
Support Keeps the employees at work
The results showed that support from a supervisor when an employee is experiencing psychosomatic symptoms of stress can make a difference. When a boss offers support in the form of a lightened work load or stress management training – it is more likely to keep the worker from taking sick leave. This is because the worker feels more inclined to reciprocate the supportive treatment by keeping their work effort high.
The findings suggest that the direct association between need for recovery and sickness absence is moderated by co-worker support, and that supervisor and co-worker support differ in their influence recovery on sickness absence through somatic symptoms: “On the one hand, co-worker support, but not supervisor support, was found to moderate the association between need for recovery and somatic symptoms. On the other hand, supervisor support, but not co-worker support, was found to moderate the association between somatic symptoms and sickness absence,” explains Biron.
“With the enormous economic losses due to absenteeism and with this still being a poorly understood phenomenon, the results of this new study are shedding light on those factors influencing sickness absence and which can be considered in the effort to reduce the losses without compromising work ethic and commitment,” she adds.
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