A new study suggests work malaise is linked to the management style of supervisor’s and to the work culture promoted by the employer.
Dr. Nicolas Gillet and colleagues found that both over-controlling managers — those who use threats as a way to motivate employees — and organizations that do not appear to value individuals’ contributions — frustrate an individual’s basic needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness (how we relate to others).
This environment, in turn, is likely to have a negative impact on our well-being at work.
The research is published online in Springer’s Journal of Business and Psychology.
In the study, researchers learned that perceived well-being is an important issue as the way we feel about ourselves accounts for more than a quarter of the differences in individuals’ work performance .
Consequently, employers are directing attention toward workplace well-being as a means to improve morale and productivity.
In the current study, researchers 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 behavior) on workers’ well-being.
Investigators carried out two experiments on 468 and 650 workers respectively, from a combination of small, medium and large French companies.
Participants completed 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 results showed that the more employees felt their supervisor supported their autonomy, 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.
Investigators believe their findings can help organizations experience less turn over and display greater productivity.
“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. We have shown, for the first time, that the fulfillment 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.”