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Workplace Factors
What is the effect of an employer being supportive, valuing and caring for their employees?

At a glance:
Employers value dedication and loyalty. Committed employees perform better at work, are absent less frequently, and are less likely to quit their job. Employees, meanwhile, also want the organisation to value them.

When employees feel their contribution is valued, that the organisation cares about their wellbeing and is ready to offer help when needed, this is referred to as “perceived organisational support'. This review of over 70 scientific studies investigated the effects of perceived organisational support, along with the factors that can increase perceived support in the workplace.

The main effects of perceived support are:

1. Increased commitment
2. Improved job satisfaction and mood
3. Increased interest in work
4. Increased performance
5. Decreased psychological
psychological
Refers to a person's perceptions, thought processes, emotions, personality and behaviour. Psychologists can treat mental health problems.
 strain
6. Increased desire to remain working for the organisation
7. Decreased withdrawal (including decreased lateness, absenteeism and turnover)
 
The main influences on perceived support are:

Fairness in the workplace
Support from supervisors
Rewards and good job conditions
 
Perspectives:
Employee
The way you're treated at work tends to give you an overall impression of the organisation you work for. Supervisor's behaviour, job conditions and the fairness of procedures in the workplace influence whether you feel valued and supported.

Employees who feel that their organisation cares about them work better. The opposite is also true. Employers value employees who work hard and appear committed to their jobs.

The workplace can influence your health at work, your risk of developing conditions like burnout or depression
depression
A symptom of mood disorder characterized by intense feelings of loss, sadness, hopelessness, failure, and rejection. Major depression is likely to interfere significantly with everyday activity, with symptoms including insomnia, irritability, weight loss, and a lack of interest in outside events. The disorder may last several months or longer and may recur, but it is generally reversible in the short run.
 and your chances of returning to work after an illness or injury. Discussing working conditions openly can help. If you are dissatisfied with aspects of your workplace, discuss the issues early. It might improve you health and the health of your colleagues.
Employer
It is important for employees to feel valued and supported in the workplace. Fair and supportive treatment of employees isn't only an ethical issue, it's an investment. This review of over 70 scientific studies found that employees that feel valued are more committed to the organisation, have improved job satisfaction and mood and decreased withdrawal (including tardiness, uncertified sick leave and turnover) from work. They have less psychological strain,
strain
Injury to a muscle in which the muscle fibres tear or become irritated as a result of overstretching or wrenching
 which reduces their symptoms of burnout, anxiety and depression.

Employees feel valued when there is fairness in decisions, support from supervisors and good job conditions. The review reported that employees often understand that job conditions and rewards, including pay and promotions, can be outside their employer's control, however. When the organisation makes voluntary decisions to give their employees practical and moral support, keep them informed and treat them with respect, employees appreciate it. Support from supervisors is a particularly important factor – rightly or wrongly, the supervisor's behaviour is thought to reflect the organisations attitude.

This study has been included in the site as workplace organisational health has an important influence on return to work outcomes.
Treater
A positive impression of the workplace improves a patient's work-related health, and may reduce psychological symptoms such as burnout, anxiety and depression, along with sick leave and turnover. Treaters can encourage patients to discuss workplace issues in a positive and open way with their employer, as this can improve their prospects of returning to work after illness or injury.
Insurer
A positive impression of the workplace improves patient's work-related health, and may reduce psychological symptoms such as burnout, anxiety and depression, along with sick leave and turnover. It also increases an employee's commitment to the organisation. Promoting fairness, respect and support in the workplace is an investment for employers.
Original Article, Authors & Publication Details:
L. Rhoades and R. Eisenberger (2002).

Perceived organizational support: A review of the literature. Journal of Applied Psychology; 87(4):698-714.

1Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, USA.
 
Background, Study Objectives, How It Was Done:
Employers value dedication and loyalty. Committed employees perform better at work, are absent less frequently, and are less likely to quit their job. Employees, meanwhile, also want the organisation they work for to value them. Being valued by the organisation means the employee is given approval and respect, good working conditions, and access to information and other resources to carry out their job, and may be offered better pay and promotion. If an employee feels valued, they are likely to be committed to the organisation. If the employee is committed, the organisation is more likely to value them.

“Perceived organisational support' refers to an employee's beliefs about the organisation they work for: how much it values their contribution, cares about their wellbeing and is ready to offer help when needed. This article is a review of over 70 studies about perceived organisational support and its effect in the workplace. The studies were performed in industries ranging from manufacturing and farming to education, healthcare, government and private enterprise.
 
Study Findings:
The organisation that an employee works for is not a person, but nonetheless has financial and legal obligations, policies and a certain culture. When employees consider the way they have been treated, they develop beliefs about whether or not “the organisation' values them. Often, employees see managers and supervisors as acting on behalf of the organisation, rather than just from personal motives.

An employees “perceived organisational support' is the degree to which they feel valued and cared for by the organisation they work for. The theory of perceived organisational support has 3 main points:

Generally speaking, people tend to return helpful behaviours and positive attitudes. When employees feel valued by the organisation, therefore, they feel an obligation to care about the organisation and help it to succeed.

When the organisation offers care, approval and support, this helps fill employee's emotional and social needs. Their role within the organisation becomes part of their identity.

A supportive organisation reinforces the employee's expectation that hard work and high performance will be rewarded. This boosts job satisfaction and mood, increases commitment and performance and decreases turnover.
 
Factors that make employees feel valued

When people are offered help or resources, they appreciate the gesture more if the offering was a choice, not an obligation. When workers are offered things like pay, promotion and a say in company policies, they will feel more valued if the organisation offered these rewards voluntarily, than if it was because of union negotiations or government regulations.

There are 3 main factors that increase perceived organisational support and make employees feel valued and cared about. These are:

1. Fairness
2. Support from supervisors
3. Rewards and job conditions
 
Fairness has the strongest influence, closely followed by support from supervisors. Rewards and job conditions are considerably weaker influences, but are still significant.

1. Fairness:

An employee who believes their organisation is fair will feel more valued. Within an organisation, resources must be divided between the employees. The way this is done will influence the employee's beliefs about how fair the company is.

Other important factors include:

formal rules and policies
giving employees adequate notice, accurate information and a say in decisions
social justice (whether employees are treated with respect)
 
Company politics can decrease an employee's sense of fairness. This might occur if employees receive s rewards and promotions based on favouritism instead of performance, follow bad instructions to receive rewards or generally acts out of self-interest instead of the common good.

2. Support from supervisors:

Supervisors are seen to act on behalf of their organisation. If employees feel valued by supervisors, they tend to take this to mean that they are valued by the organisation as a whole. Employees are also aware that their supervisor's evaluations of them as workers will probably be passed on to higher management.

3. Rewards and job conditions:

Recognising an employee's contributions increases their sense of being valued, and might be achieved through recognition, pay or promotions.

Job conditions that increase perceived organisational support include:

A sense of job security
Training
Responsibility and control over how the employee does their work
Working for a smaller organisation (large organisations may feel impersonal and inflexible)
 
Perceived support is decreased by stressful job conditions such as having unclear or contradictory responsibilities or being overloaded with work.

This review found that the strongest influences on perceived support are job security, organisational rewards and a clear role as an employee.

Personal characteristics such as friendliness, positivity, optimism and conscientiousness can also influence an employee's impression of the organisation they work for. Friendly and positive individuals, for example, might be more likely to make a positive impression and build friendships. This would result in a more positive response from the organisation and therefore the person might be more likely to feel valued.

The employee's salary, education level, age and tenure do not have an effect on perceived organisational support.

The effects of feeing valued

This review showed that perceived organisational support has the following effects:

1. Increased commitment
2. Improved job satisfaction and mood
3. Increased interest in work
4. Increased performance
5. Decreased psychological strain
6. Increased desire to remain working for the organisation
7. Decreased withdrawal (including decreased lateness, absenteeism and turnover)
 
1. Commitment

If an employee feels valued and cared for, they are likely to value the company in return. They are also likely to feel a sense of belonging and support, so that working for the organisation becomes part of their identity and their sense of purpose and meaning. These things increase the employees feeling of commitment and loyalty to their organisation.

2. Improved job-satisfaction and mood

Employees who feel valued have greater job-satisfaction. They feel happier at work and their overall attitude towards work is more positive. They expect that hard work will be rewarded, and feel that help will be available if needed.

3. Job interest

People are more likely to be interested in a task if they feel they are good at it. Support from the workplace can help increase an employee's feelings of competence and therefore their level of interest in their work.

4. Performance

Employees who feel valued and supported perform better at work, and go beyond their required duties. They might help other employees, gain knowledge and skills that benefit the workplace or use their initiative to help the company or protect it from risks.

5. Psychological strain

Organisational support is believed to help employees cope better with stress, as practical help and emotional support are available. Previous studies have shown organisational support can help reduce psychological stress, and reduce reactions to stress including burnout, anxiety and headaches.

6. Employees desire to remain at work

Supported employees are less likely to leave their job for another one that offers slightly better pay, more status or greater freedom.

7. Decreased withdrawal

Employees who feel valued are less likely to withdraw from work. Employees might withdraw by taking sick leave, arriving late or quitting.

The review found that perceived organisational support had a strong effect on commitment, job satisfaction, mood and desire to stay with the company. It had a moderate effect on job involvement, psychological strain, missed work, lateness and behaviour that is outside of the responsibilities of the job. The effects of perceived support on turnover and performance specific to the job were small but significant.
 
Conclusions:
This review of over 70 research papers explored the effects of perceived organisational support. Perceived organisational support is an employee's impression that their contribution is valued and the organisation they work for cares about their well-being.

The strongest effect of perceived support was to increase an employee's commitment to the organisation. Employees that feel valued are more dedicated to their work in a positive way, while feelings of being “trapped' in a job may be reduced by perceived support. Perceived support increases performance and decreases work absence and lateness. Employees that feel valued also have increased job satisfaction, positive mood and decreased psychological strain, meaning they show fewer symptoms of fatigue, burnout, anxiety and headaches.

Perceived support is believed to enhance performance and commitment in several ways. Firstly, there is the natural impulse to “return the favour,' or respond to the organisation's behaviour in a similar way. Support from the organisation also helps to meet employee's needs for emotional support, a sense of identity and belonging, recognition and approval. Finally, employees come to expect that commitment and good performance will be rewarded.

Several factors contribute to how valued and supported employees feel at work. This review found that fairness within the organisation was the most important influence. The authors reported that when employees had a say in decisions and were treated with respect, it greatly increased their sense of support, while organisational politics and self-interested behaviour had a strong negative effect on employee's perceptions. Support from supervisors was seen to reflect an overall attitude of the organisation, and this was also a strong influence.

Rewards and job conditions contribute to perceived organisational support, but they are not as important as fairness or support from supervisors. The authors of the review suggested that employees are aware that to a certain extent rewards and job conditions may be outside their employer's control.

Practical help, good job conditions, fair procedures and moral support will increase an employee's impression of being valued and cared about. However it is important to the employee that the organisation make these offerings voluntarily, not out of obligation. One study showed that when employees had good job conditions, they were 6 times more likely to feel valued if the conditions were within their manager's control.
 
References:
PubMed Abstract
 
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