The research is being conducted by ANU PhD candidate Suzi Keser from the Department of Psychology. The results were based on survey responses from over 600 employees, including managers, professionals, and administrative clerks, from a large workplace based in the ACT.
PhD student Suzi Keser. Photo by Leanne O’Rourkes.
The research identified that supervisor support as well as work demands and control were key workplace factors in stress and depression risk.
Ms Keser said that supportive supervisors were rated as being effective at promoting team work while being attentive and responsive to the needs of individual employees.
“The study also found that employees were more likely to rate their supervisor as supportive if the supervisor was seen as representing the team’s identity and being a ‘part of the team’, rather than a unique or different from team members,” she said.
“Employees’ experience of this identity-based leadership was not only linked to higher ratings of support, but also to lower ratings of stress.
“In addition, ratings of stress were strongly linked to work demands, which were defined as the experience of a reasonable workload with clear expectations.”
Ms Keser said that employees’ sense of control at work was related to depression risk, but not stress risk. Control at work described employees’ opportunities to have a say and make decisions about their work, and maintain their ability to perform by applying and developing their skills.
The research also revealed that employees who indicated a stronger bond, sense of satisfaction, similarity and commitment to their workgroups were more likely to indicate higher levels of workplace control and in turn lower levels of depression.
“Overall, this research highlights the possible role of identification with workgroups and supervisors in shaping employees’ experience of workplace conditions that are important for mental health at work.”
The findings point to the promise of exploring the influence of work group memberships and identity on other health outcomes. The research may also have implications for employee productivity, motivation, absenteeism and turnover.
Contacts: Martyn Pearce, ANU Media – 02 6125 5575 / 0416 249 245