Supportive colleagues make a difference

28/05/2009 15:00

Employees who lack support from their colleagues more often report sick than those who receive support from their working environment. The sickness absence rate is also lower among employees who can operate independently.

Employees generally pleased with colleagues and superiors

More than 90 percent of employees say they get a lot of support from colleagues and superiors. Colleagues show they are interested and direct superiors have a keen eye for the welfare of their employees. About 60 percent of employees claim they have the power to control their own work pace and the order in which they get their work done. Nearly 40 percent of employees in the Netherlands regularly or permanently have to cope with high pressure of work. They have to work hard and describe their jobs as hectic.

Pressure of work, autonomy and social support among employees, 2008

Pressure of work, autonomy and social support among employees, 2008

Three quarters of higher educated in control of their own working process

Relative to lower educated employees, their higher educated counterparts are more often able to regulate their own work pace and free to plan the order in which they will complete their tasks: three quarters of higher educated and nearly half of lower educated think they have a high degree of autonomy. Higher educated also more often work under pressure. There is little difference in the social support they receive between higher and lower educated.

Pressure of work, autonomy and social support by level of education, 2008

Pressure of work, autonomy and social support by level of education, 2008

Relation between high sickness absence rate and low level of support

Last year, the sickness absence rate averaged 4.1 percent. The rate among employees receiving high social support from their working environment was 3.9 percent, as against 6.6 percent for employees receiving little support from colleagues and superiors.

There is also a relation between a high degree of job autonomy and sickness absence: the sickness absence rate is lower among employees with a high degree of job autonomy. The absence rate is higher for employees who have to cope with high pressure of work than for those experiencing a low pressure of work. Lastly, employees facing high pressure of work, a low degree of job autonomy and little support from colleagues are more than twice as often absent from work (8.2 percent) as people who have low pressure of work, a high degree of job autonomy and a lot of social support (3.7 percent).

Sickness absence by work pressure, autonomy and social support, 2008

Sickness absence by work pressure, autonomy and social support, 2008

Jannes de Vries and Martine Mol