Posted on September 29, 2011 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)
Work can be extremely stressful and place us in challenging and exhausting situations. When a project is not going as planned and the going gets tough, it is important to have support from someone to get you through. Research indicates that those employees who seek social support from work and non-work sources tend to report feeling less stressed than those that do not seek social support.
Social support can come from many different places. Most employees seek support from his or her family before looking to other sources. The literature shows that employees are often more likely to seek support from family members because they feel their family accepts them and is willing to help. Family members may have different suggestions and supportive natures because they have no role in the organization and are looking from the outside in. Although studies have indicated that there is no correlation between job satisfaction and family support, there is considerable data suggesting that family support plays a vital role in an employee’s well-being and psychological health.
Not everyone feels comfortable seeking support from one’s family. The employee may not want to burden the family with difficult workplace situations. Therefore, the employee may seek support from other sources. Many employees who have strong relationships with coworkers will turn to them to voice concerns or vent frustrations. The positive or negative feedback one receives from coworkers can have a tremendous impact on how the employee handles stress.
When I am in need of social support in the workplace, I most often seek my coworkers support. It is typically difficult to seek family support for me because I feel like my family does not truly understand the situation I am currently facing. Although they can provide helpful suggestions and listen to my frustrations, they may not be fully aware of what my frustrations really look like in the workplace. However with coworkers, I have often found that they may be having similar frustrations. At a previous job, my coworkers and I were not trained well enough to perform our roles as interns. When I was given my first assignment I felt completely lost and somewhat helpless. I came to find that my coworkers were having similar feelings. In talking with them I felt my stress level decrease significantly because I no longer felt that I was the only one confused and struggling.
In talking with my coworkers and voicing concerns, I have often found that they are able to help or offer advice. When I am unsure about a task I am completing, it is helpful to have a coworker step in and help knowing that I am having some trouble. Establishing a relationship with coworkers that fosters support for one another has always helped me through difficult situations that may be faced. While family support tends to improve the well-being of an individual, coworker support has a tremendous impact on the satisfaction of the employee. I have found this to be very true in my personal experiences. I have always felt a higher job satisfaction in positions where I got along well with my coworkers and was able to seek support when necessary.
Finally, organizational support lends itself to whether or not an employee is committed to the company. Some organizations encourage employees to voice their opinions without any retribution or punishment. Many employees struggle with feeling comfortable enough to talk to their organizational leaders about concerns. There is a deep fear that by seeking support from the organization, the employee will appear weak or inadequate and give the organization reason to terminate the employee in the future. If an employee seeks support because they are unable to complete work, it may indeed send a message to the organization that the employee is unable to complete their work due to a lack of skills. Although this may not be the case, the organization may interpret the employee reaching out as a negative situation.
An organization has the great opportunity to provide support for employees. Support can come in many different forms that will ultimately assist the employee. Organizations that provide wellness programs and focus on the health of employees have an obvious interest in the well-being of its employees. Support can also come in the form of tuition reimbursement. By paying for an employees’ education, the organization is demonstrating an interest in the development of employees.
Social support, no matter where it is obtained, is an important part of coping with the everyday stress of work. We all work with people of different personalities and there are days when it the end of the day cannot seem to come soon enough. Unless employees seek social support in some way, the employee will likely suffer from low job satisfaction, mental, and physical health.
Who do you turn to when you are stressed or burnt out?