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Who's the reason for unhappiness at office?

india Updated: Jan 19, 2012 15:41 IST

An over controlling boss or lack of organizational support may hamper employees’ well-being at work as it frustrates a worker’s basic needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, a new study has suggested.

The way we feel, or our well-being, can account for more than a quarter of the differences observed in individuals’ performance at work. Workplace well-being is therefore receiving increasing attention as it may have economic implications for the organization if workers are underperforming.

Dr. Nicolas Gillet, from the Universite Francois Rabelais in Tours in France, and his team looked at the impact of perceived organizational support (the extent to which the organization values workers’ contributions) and supervisor’s interpersonal style (either supportive towards subordinates’ autonomy or controlling their behaviour) on workers’ well-being.

They carried out two experiments on 468 and 650 workers respectively, from a combination of small, medium and large French companies.

Participants filled in questionnaires asking them about their perceptions of their supervisors’ management style, as well as the extent to which they felt that their organization supported them.

The more the employees felt that their supervisor supported their autonomy, the more their needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness were met and the happier and more satisfied they were.

The same was true with greater perceived organizational support. Equally, when supervisors behaved in a coercive, pressuring and authoritarian way, or organizations were perceived as unsupportive, workers'' needs were thwarted and they experienced lower levels of well-being.

“Our study shows that both organizational and managerial factors have an influence on satisfying or frustrating the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and how we relate to others,” the authors said.

“We have shown, for the first time, that the fulfilment and frustration of these needs plays a central role in the improvement or reduction of well-being at work.

“Therefore, to satisfy employees' needs, supervisors should provide subordinates with options rather than use threats and deadlines, a strategy which could improve their workforce's well-being,” the authors added.

The study has been published online in Springer’s Journal of Business and Psychology.