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Being a supportive boss can reduce levels of absenteeism at work

A study carried out in the US has revealed that being a supportive supervisor can reduce the level of absenteeism in certain jobs.
Mar 22nd 2012, 6:45 AM 2,369 11

A BOSS WHO supports their employee in certain hazardous jobs can reduce the amount of days that employee takes off work even if their co-workers think it’s okay to miss days, a US study has found.

Research published in the American Psychological Journal found that the influence on an employee of the level of risk involved in a job and peer pressure from co-workers is negligible when compared to the influence of their supervisor.

Having peers who thought it was okay to miss a lot of working days influenced an employee to take days off when they felt that their supervisor was not supporting them, the study found.

The lead author, Dr Michal Biron, of Israel’s University of Haifa and the Netherlands’ Tilburg University said: ”The findings provide useful guidance for companies and organisations that are dealing with a counterproductive employee subculture that condones missing work.

“Leadership will do well to provide frontline supervisors with training and resources so that they can be supportive of their employees who deal with tough work environments.”

The study involved examining the employee attendance rate and habits of 508 workers, mostly men, with the transportation authority of a large US municipality.

Absenteeism rates were determined by examining personnel records over the previous two years and job hazards were identified by selecting a random sample of 34 workers who were quizzed about workplace hazards such as electrocution or assault from customers or co-workers.

All the workers were then quizzed on how they felt about their co-workers and the degree to which their co-workers viewed 20 possible reasons for absenteeism as justifiable.

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They also asked employees to rate their supervisor’s supportiveness based on how often their superior had assisted them in various ways.

“An employee culture that approves of missing work might result in higher employee absenteeism when coupled with aversive work conditions if a supervisor is considered unsupportive, but it seems to have no effect at all when employees feel their supervisor is supportive,” said co-author Dr Peter Bamberger, of Tel Aviv University and the Smithers Institute of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

“This may be because employees want to reciprocate positive treatment and avoid causing any problems due to their absenteeism that could negatively impact their supervisors.”

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Hugh O'Connell

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