Perceived Workplace Support and Occupational Health
Occupational health encompasses several elements. Among others, it alludes to physical security in this particular context. However, it also encompasses the mental aspect. In this framework, the relationship between the level of perceived social support and health at work is positive. Indeed, if the employee feels supported by their supervisors and colleagues, it’s likely that they’ll feel better and, therefore, perform better.
In fact, when an employee is supported by those around them, they may experience less mental burnout. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), scientific evidence supports this idea. They claim that perceived workplace support is positively linked to the mental well-being of employees (WHO, 2020).
“Work should not only be a source of income but also happiness and personal fulfillment.”
Perceived workplace support
An investigation conducted by The Canadian Medical Association Journal, with a sample of 1,422 professionals, found that 48.5 percent felt supported at work. Less than half of them. Based on this scenario, it’s hardly surprising that perceived workplace support has a significant impact on employees’ mental health.
P erceived workplace support includes socialization at different levels of formality and involves different scales of the organization of the company. It implies a series of relationships/interactions where one employee or supervisor provides help to another. There are three different types of this support. We’re going to discuss them below:
- Instruments. Vehicles to achieve goals.
- Expressive. It can be of intrinsic help. For example, via emotional expression.
- In crisis. It refers to the role that support plays in promoting well-being and protecting against disease.
It’s important to highlight that perceived workplace support refers to, as the term suggests, a perception. As such, more than real, tangible, and obvious support, it refers to the perception that it’s available if the employee needs it.
“We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves.”
Perceived workplace support and mental health
A lack of perceived workplace support has the potential to impact employees’ mental health. According to the researchers Sohmaran et al. (2019), employees who report little support have a higher risk of suffering from the following conditions :
- Clinical insomnia.
- Burnout syndrome.
- Major depressive disorder.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
In fact, employees who feel helpless are more vulnerable. This means they exhibit a tendency to experience more fragile mental health. Along the same lines, a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health associates a good level of perceived workplace support with lower levels of employee distress (Sconfienza et al., 2019).
“A healthy work environment is one in which there is a balance between the demands of the job and the resources you have to meet them.”
-Sir Cary Cooper-
Can it protect mental health?
Dr. Christina Maslach (2017) claims that a lack of perceived workplace support could be related to burnout syndrome. This results from persistent, insidious, and endemic job stress. As a consequence, the employee may feel tired, depersonalized, and used in their job.
Similarly, Sohmaran et al. (2019) claim that supporting employees have the potential to protect their colleagues against burnout syndrome and GAD. In fact, those who receive perceived workplace were 39 percent less likely to suffer from GAD, compared to employees who weren’t supported by their supervisors.
Moreover, the fact of receiving workplace support is related to higher levels of engagement. Engagement is a classic term from the field of organizational psychology. Employees with high levels in this variable reveal that work brings them large doses of well-being. Moreover, their performance is optimal.
High rates of perceived workplace support, as well as engagement, are also configured as protective factors against stress (Orgambídez-Ramos, 2017).
Professionals in the field of occupational health are aware of these facts. Indeed, many of the policies and guidelines for action suggest promoting support in this area, with the aim of increasing the well-being and mental health of employees. Therefore, workplace support has the potential to be considered a factor that shields against anxiety, discomfort, and depression.
“A positive and supportive work environment not only increases happiness and job satisfaction, but also increases productivity and performance.”
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Gracia, E., Herrero, J., & Musitu, G. (1995). El apoyo social. ISBN: 84-477-0438-6.
- How to promote wellbeing and tackle the causes of work-related mental health problems. (2014). London: Mind. Consultado el 31 de marzo de 2023. https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/4662/resource3_howtopromotewellbeingfinal.pdf
- Schaufeli, W. B., Maslach, C., & Marek, T. (2017). Professional burnout: Recent developments in theory and research. Routledge. https://scholar.google.co.ve/scholar?q=Schaufeli,+W.+B.,+Maslach,+C.,+%26+Marek,+T.+(2017).+Professional+burnout:+Recent+developments+in+theory+and+research.&hl=es&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart#:~:text=incluir%20citas-,Professional%20burnout%3A%20Recent%20developments%20in%20theory%20and%20research,-WB%20Schaufeli%2C
- Sconfienza, C., Lindfors, P., Lantz Friedrich, A., & Sverke, M. (2019). Social support at work and mental distress: A three-wave study of normal, reversed, and reciprocal relationships. Journal of occupational health, 61(1), 91–100. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30698345/
- Siddiqui, I., Gupta, J., Collett, G., McIntosh, I., Komodromos, C., Godec, T., Ng, S., Maniero, C., Antoniou, S., Khan, R., Kapil, V., Khanji, M. Y., Gupta, A. K., & CoPE-HCP clinical investigators (2023). Perceived workplace support and mental health, well-being and burnout among health care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cohort analysis. CMAJ open, 11(1), E191–E200. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36854456/
- Organización Mundial de la Salud. (2020). Mental health in the workplace. Consultado el 31 de marzo de 2023. https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/mental-health-in-the-workplace