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The best medicine for a stressed worker

Employers could avoid excess absenteeism by just offering emotional and instrumental support, reveals a new study.

A new study conducted by Dr Michal Biron of the University of Haifa’s Graduate School of Management, set out to examine what interpersonal workplace dynamics are influencing the worker’s “burnout” symptoms and whether those dynamics have an effect on when the individual ultimately takes sickness leave to recover.

The US is losing approximately $225.8 billion per year due to absenteeism.

“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,” explains Dr Biron.

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

The workers were asked to report on common somatic symptoms, such as headaches or muscle soreness, that 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 results showed that support from a supervisor when an employee is experiencing psychosomatic symptoms of the stress can make a real difference. When the boss offers support in the form of, for example, a lightened workload 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 results are soon to be published in the

European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology.

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Published February 07, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 07, 2012 at 8:13 am)

The best medicine for a stressed worker

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