Workplace social support refers to the availability or actual receipt of assistance provided to an employee by one or more people. It is generally examined as a means of coping with occupational stress. An important distinction concerns the sources of social support. Support may be provided by people within the organization—supervisors, subordinates, coworkers, or even customers—or by people outside the organization, such as family or friends. Social support provided by people within the organization, particularly support provided by supervisors, has the greatest implications for employee well-being.

Another important distinction is between structural support and functional support. Structural support refers to the size of a person’s social network, whereas functional support refers to whether the people in a person’s social network actually provide helpful behaviors. Research suggests ...

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