Do Social Support for Women and Men Change in Reducing Job Stress? An Examination on Research AssistantsOzan Büyükyılmaz, Hatice Coşkunoğlu Kaya
Job stress is considered as a significant organizational problem that reduces employees’ productivity, increases risk of suffering an occupational accident, and causes low performance and turnover. This study determines how social support perceived by employees from nonwork sources affects the stress experienced in the workplace and how this effect differs for women and men. In the study, the relationships between three sources of social support, job stress, and gender were investigated. Data were collected through a questionnaire from 96 research assistants working at a state university in Turkey. Hypotheses were tested by partial least squares structural equation modeling using SmartPLS 3. The study findings show that all three sources of social support reduce job stress. Besides, it has been determined that the reducing effect of family support on job stress is significant only for women, and the reducing effect of friend support on job stress is significant only for men. The effect of significant other support on job stress does not differ between women and men. The findings of the study might contribute to the current understanding of the relationship between social support and employee health. Additionally, the study findings will assist the university administration in developing effective measures to reduce job stress.
İş Stresini Azaltmada Kadınların ve Erkeklerin Sosyal Destek Kaynakları Değişir Mi? Araştırma Görevlileri Üzerine Bir İncelemeOzan Büyükyılmaz, Hatice Coşkunoğlu Kaya
İş stresi, bir çalışanın verimliliğini düşüren, iş kazası yaşama riskini arttıran, düşük performansa ve işten ayrılma niyetine neden olan önemli bir örgütsel sorun olarak kabul edilmektedir. Bu çalışmanın amacı, çalışanların iş dışı kaynaklardan algıladığı sosyal desteğin işyerinde yaşanan stresi nasıl etkilediğini ve bu etkinin kadınlara ve erkeklere göre ne şekilde farklılaştığını tespit etmektir. Çalışmada, üç sosyal destek kaynağı (aile, arkadaş özel bir insan), iş stresi ve cinsiyet arasındaki ilişkiler incelenmiştir. Amaca uygun olarak hazırlanan ölçeklerin yer aldığı bir anket formu aracılığıyla bir devlet üniversitesinde görev yapan 96 araştırma görevlisinden veri toplanmıştır. Hipotezler, SmartPLS 3 programı kullanılarak kısmi en küçük kareler yapısal eşitlik modellemesi ile test edilmiştir. Çalışmanın bulgularına göre, her üç sosyal destek kaynağının da iş stresini azaltıcı etkisi bulunmaktadır. Aile desteğinin iş stresini azaltıcı etkisinin yalnızca kadınlar için ve arkadaş desteğinin iş stresini azaltıcı etkisinin ise yalnızca erkekler için anlamlı olduğu belirlenmiştir. Özel bir insan desteğinin iş stresi üzerindeki etkisi ise kadınlara ve erkeklere göre farklılaşmamaktadır. Çalışma bulgularının sosyal destek ile çalışan sağlığı ilişkisine yönelik güncel anlayışa katkıda bulunacağı düşünülmektedir. Ayrıca çalışma bulguları, iş stresinin azaltılmasına yönelik etkili önlemlerin geliştirilmesinde üniversite yönetimlerine yardımcı olacaktır.
This study determines how the level of social support perceived by research assistants working in universities affects the stress experienced in the workplace. The study also examines how the effect of social support on job stress differs according to gender; specifically, whether gender plays a moderator role in this relationship. In this context, the study focuses on two main problems: (1) from an employee’s perception, how effective are the different sources of support from his or her social environment in reducing work stress? (2) Do the various social supports have different effects on female and male employees in reducing work stress?
Data were collected through a questionnaire containing customized scales. The questionnaire consisted of three parts. The first part contained questions to determine the participants’ demographic characteristics. The second part consisted of statements aimed at determining the degree of social support and the third part consisted of statements aimed at determining the degree of job stress perceived by the participants. Two scales were used in the study. Perceived social support was measured with a 12-item scale developed by Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet, and Farley (1988). It consisted of three subscales that assessed participants’ perception of family, friends, and significant other support. However, job stress was assessed by seven items derived from House and Rizzo (1972).
The population of the study comprised 240 research assistants working in Karabuk University in Turkey. As it was difficult to reach the participants during the COVID-19 pandemic, an online survey technique was preferred in the study. The e-mail addresses of 228 research assistants were obtained and the necessary permissions were sought. An online questionnaire form was sent to their e-mail addresses by convenience sampling method. In total, 96 responded; thus, the sample of the study consists of 96 research assistants.
In this study, SPSS Statistics 22 and SmartPLS 3.3.2 programs were used for data analysis. Descriptive statistics were calculated by summarizing demographic characteristics with SPSS Statistics 22. Partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) was used through SmartPLS 3 program for the reliability and validity analyses and the hypothesis tests performed subsequently.
In the study, six hypotheses were tested within the scope of the purpose. The first three hypotheses investigated whether perceived support from family, friend, and significant other support are effective tools in reducing research assistants’ job stress. Analyzes have shown that the three social support sources reduce job stress. Specifically, as the support perceived by research assistants from their social environment increases, the level of stress experienced in working life decreases. The next three hypotheses examine whether the sources of social support used by research assistants to reduce stress differ among men and women. The findings reveal that gender has a moderating effect on the relationship between social support and job stress. The findings show that the negative correlation between family support and job stress is valid only for women. However, the effect of friend’s support on reducing job stress is significant only for men. The effect of significant other support on work stress was found to be significant for women but not for men. However, multiple group analysis revealed that this effect did not differ according to gender.
This study revealed that gender differences exist among research assistants in using social support to mitigate the effects of work stress. Thus, it provides a clear understanding of the relationship between social support and job stress. This study makes a significant contribution to the literature in understanding how social support can affect the levels of job stress among employees, how different social support sources can affect job stress, and how this effect may differ in terms of gender. The study findings also support the Tend and Befriend theory (Taylor, 2006; Taylor et al., 2000) and confirm that men and women use social support differently, which is considered to be an important coping mechanism to reduce stress.