The study led by the International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS) has outlined 78 manager qualities that are most likely to help sick-listed employees get back to work.
The three most often mentioned were ability to make contact, consideration and understanding.
"The employees find it important that their managers are understanding, supportive, attentive, empathetic, warm and friendly," Science Daily quoted senior researcher Randi Wago Aas at IRIS, as saying.
"When they are on sick leave, people are in a position of vulnerability. Many of them talk about feeling suspected, and say their problems are not taken seriously", she added.
The risk of long-term sick leave rises proportionally to the lack of support from the manager.
The 78 qualities were divided into seven categories. The one mentioned the most frequently, is nicknamed The Protector, who has caring qualities. Then comes The Problem Solver, who is the best at adapting.
The third most important is The Contact Maker, who gets in touch with the employee to inform of what is happening in the workplace and is also interested in how the employee is doing.
Fourth is The Trust Creator, who''s discreet, honest, open and creates a feeling of safety.
Then comes The Recognizer, who behaves acknowledging, confirming and without prejudice towards the employee.
The Encourager is the one who has a positive attitude, and is generous and happy. He motivates, inspires and is available.
And finally The Responsibility-maker, who is honest, to the point and gives the employee challenges and responsibility for his or her own situation.
The study also brought forth age differences in the individual''s needs while on sick leave.
Younger employees had the greatest need for protection and recognition, while those over 45 were more concerned with problem solving and being held responsible.
"Older people are probably more concerned with adaptation of their work environment, to make sure they can get back to work. Younger employees are possibly more vulnerable, and need more encouragement", she said.
Another important finding revealed the difference in what the employees and the managers thought was important.
While, the employees emphasised recognition and encouragement, while managers were more concerned with accountability, and problem solving.