Business and Management INK

Perceived Support Profiles in the Workplace: A Longitudinal Perspective

October 27, 2021 1519

In this post, authors Gaëtane Caesens, Alexandre J. S. Morin, Nicolas Gillet, Florence Stinglhamber reflect on their recent research article, “Perceived Support Profiles in the Workplace: A Longitudinal Perspective,” published in Group & Organization Management, which examines how employee’s perceptions of three sources of support in the workplace (i.e., organization, supervisor, and colleagues) combine within specific profiles and the nature of the relations between these profiles and indicators of employees’ psychological health (i.e., stress, sleep problems, psychosomatic strains, and depression).

What motivated you to pursue this research?
We all know how important it is to be supported at work, whether by one’s organization or by more proximal sources such as one’s supervisor or colleagues. Past research has shown the positive effects of perceived support from the organization (POS), supervisor (PSS) and colleagues (PCS) but looking at them in isolation from each other. In reality, however, we are subjected to these different potential sources of support at the same time, in a joint manner in the workplace. It was therefore unknown whether support from different sources go hand in hand (i.e., creating a global support climate), whether each source of perceived support rather emerges independently from one another (i.e., acting as specific sources of influence), or whether a combination of both views exists. Examining the combined effects of POS, PSS, and PCS through a person-centered approach allowed us to answer this important question. Our research allows to investigate whether one source of support can compensate for the absence of another in predicting employee psychological health (i.e., depression, stress, psychosomatic strains, and sleep problems). For example, is it enough to be supported by your supervisor to feel good or is it absolutely necessary that PSS be part of a more general supportive organizational context?

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?
Our research revealed two surprising findings. On the one hand, the results indicated that employees perceiving the highest levels of support from all sources (i.e., organization, supervisor, and colleagues) did not report higher levels of psychological health than their colleagues exposed to lower levels of the three sources of social support. Feeling moderately or being well-supported is actually better in terms of psychological health (i.e., less depression, stress, psychosomatic strains and sleep problems) than being highly supported. This finding might result from the greater proportion of women who felt highly supported and to the fact that working women tend to display higher levels of psychological health difficulties than their male counterparts.

On the other hand, the findings (excluding the demographic controls) showed that employees who feel supported by their supervisor but not by the other two sources (organization and co-workers) are in poorer psychological health (i.e., higher levels of depression, stress, psychosomatic strains and sleep problems) than their counterparts who do not feel supported by any source. Feeling supported by your supervisor is not enough to compensate for a lack of a more general supportive climate at work.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?
We strongly believe that our research sheds new light on the literature on workplace support. Although sex seems to play a role in this association, our findings still suggest that extremely high levels of support from all sources (a strong climate of support) might be detrimental. Therefore, our results show, for the first time, that the “more support, better results” perspective may not be correct. More research should be conducted to better understand the potential negative side of excessive levels of support at work in order to achieve a more nuanced perspective on this literature.

Our results also suggest that being only supported by one’s supervisor can be harmful for employees when this level of PSS is not accompanied by matching levels of POS and PCS. In a context where we sometimes question whether the organization is an entity that still makes sense to employees, our results thus show that low POS can really be harmful so that the organization matters in terms of psychological health.

Gaëtane Caesens (pictured) is a professor at Université Catholique de Louvain. Alexandre J. S. Morin is a Psychology Professor at Concordia University, Canada. Nicolas Gillet is associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Tours (France) and junior member of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF). Florence Stinglhamber is a professor at Université Catholique de Louvain.

View all posts by Gaëtane Caesens, Alexandre J. S. Morin, Nicolas Gillet and Florence Stinglhamber

Related Articles

How AI-Integration is Changing the Workplace
Business and Management INK
May 28, 2024

How AI-Integration is Changing the Workplace

Read Now
Keeping Qualitative Research Weird!
Business and Management INK
May 23, 2024

Keeping Qualitative Research Weird!

Read Now
Sometimes, We Do Need a Narcissist
Business and Management INK
May 21, 2024

Sometimes, We Do Need a Narcissist

Read Now
From Collision to Collaboration: Bridging University and Industry Relationships
Business and Management INK
May 17, 2024

From Collision to Collaboration: Bridging University and Industry Relationships

Read Now
Motivation of Young Project Professionals: Their Needs for Autonomy, Competence, Relatedness, and Purpose

Motivation of Young Project Professionals: Their Needs for Autonomy, Competence, Relatedness, and Purpose

Young professionals born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s now constitute a majority of the project management workforce. Having grown up connected, collaborative, and mobile, they have specific motivations and needs, which are explored in this study.

Read Now
A Complexity Framework for Project Management Strategies

A Complexity Framework for Project Management Strategies

Contemporary projects frequently pose complexities that cannot be adequately tackled by the classical project management tradition. This article offers a diagnostic tool to help identify the type of complexity of a project and determine the most suitable strategy for addressing it.

Read Now
Bringing Theories into Conversation to Strategize for a Better World

Bringing Theories into Conversation to Strategize for a Better World

In this article, Ann Langley, Rikkie Albertsen, Shahzad (Shaz) Ansari, Katrin Heucher, Marc Krautzberger, Pauline Reinecke, Natalie Slawinski, and Eero Vaara reflect on the inspiration behind their research article, “Strategizing Together for a Better World: Institutional, Paradox and Practice Theories in Conversation,” found in the Journal of Management Inquiry.

Read Now
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments