Is it possible to be too supportive of colleagues at work? For decades researchers have lauded the benefits of social support at work. Studies show that social support increases job satisfaction and commitment, and decreases turnover. Social support is essential for well-being at work, it mitigates stress and reduces strain. Yet study results still vary, and it has been unclear why.
A recent article by Kyle Ehrhardt and Belle Rose Ragins provides a more nuanced view of social support at work. Across three studies, they show that when people get the support they need they are more attached and thus committed to their organization. But if you give people more than they want or need, it feels like you are intruding on their personal boundaries, or as the authors explain “too close for comfort”.
So what’s the key takeaway? It turns out the social support provided needs to fit what people need. No more and no less.