Tel Aviv: An employee experiencing the stress of intense workdays might develop stomach ache or headache, compelling him to take leave of absence. But when his supervisor offers emotional support, he is more likely to recover without needing to take that extra afternoon or day off, says a new study from the University of Haifa, Israel.

In earlier studies, workers who experience stress at the workplace, due to high job demands, were found to develop psychological strain that translates into physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches and fatigue, the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology reports.

These are often relieved when the individuals have some time away from work to recover. The US is losing approximately USD 225.8 billion per year due to absenteeism, according to a Tel Aviv statement. Michal Biron of the University of Haifa's Graduate School of Management, examined a group of 241 workers in a manufacturing unit in China for burnout symptoms, where there is significant distance between supervisor and employee.

Workers were asked to report headaches or muscle soreness, that they experienced over the past month and to indicate how often their supervisor provided them with emotional and instrumental support once they experienced such symptoms. Data on sickness absence was provided by the employer.

The results showed that support from a supervisor when an employee is experiencing psychosomatic symptoms of the stress can make a real difference. When the boss offers support in the form of, for example, a lightened work load or stress management training - it is more likely to keep the worker from taking sick leave. Because the worker feels more obliged by keeping their work effort high.

"The worker who is given this sort of support is more likely to overcome the somatic stress and continue to work productively, leaving recovery for the normal after-work hours when we recharge our batteries," explains Biron.

(Agencies)