Social Relationships

Social relationships at work can be both a resource and a stress factor for employees. They have different effects on an employee’s well-being, mental health and work-related performance.

Support from co-workers and superiors is regarded as a resource. This can relate to varying factors. Examples include the support that the recipient of the support actually receives, subjectively perceives or simply expects from a provider of support. According to the job-demand-control-support model (Johnson & Hall, 1988) a high level of social support in the workplace can help to successfully deal with a high workload.

Bullying ranks as an extreme social stress factor. Although there is no uniform definition, certain attributes are recurrently found. A situation at work is called bullying, for example, if a person is exposed to negative behaviour emanating from one or more persons in the workplace either repeatedly or over a long period of time, and if he/she is unable to defend him or herself against it. The behavioural patterns defined by bullying are more psychological than physical in nature.

Current state of knowledge

A scoping review by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) summarises the state of scientific knowledge of social relationships. It considers, in particular, the social support, social climate, bullying and social conflicts. The review describes the corresponding correlations with (mental) health, well-being, motivation and performance. Job design statements are formulated at the organisational, team and individual levels.

The project "Mental Health in the Working World"

The scoping review on social relationships is part of the project "Mental Health in the Working World - determining the current state of scientific evidence". The project assesses mental load factors by means of the state of scientific knowledge.

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