Perceived Organizational Support (POS)

This article describes the Perceived Organizational Support (POS) in a practical way. After reading you will understand the definition and basics of this powerful motivation and management method.

What is Perceived Organizational Support (POS)?

Perceived Organizational Support (POS) demonstrates the extent to which employees believe that their organization values their contributions. Perceived Organizational Support also shows how the organization cares about the well-being of its employees, and how it can possibly meet their socio-emotional needs. Perceived Organizational Support arose from the organizational support theory developed by Robert Eisenberger, an American professor of psychology and management and Linda Rhoades Shanock, an American organizational psychologist, among others.

In general, Perceived Organizational Support contributes to a positive reciprocity dynamic with personnel; as soon as the employee has a good perception of the organization, their efforts and work will improve. This has to do with the fact that employees generally perform better after receiving rewards, regardless of whether these are intrinsic or extrinsic incentives. One is the result of the other; as such, this brings about a successive (reciprocal) dynamic. Among other things, Perceived Organizational Support leads to better performance and less absenteeism.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Perceived Organizational Support affects both employees’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivators are external rewards that employees take for granted for their performance. In this case, think of a good and fair salary, extras in the form of bonuses, targets, and profit distributions, and secondary conditions like business tools (telephone, laptop, tablet) and (company) cars.

The intrinsic motivators ensure that the employee feels satisfied. Examples of this include compliments for one’s work, career opportunities that are offered, the opportunity to follow trainings, and the possibility to obtain certificates. The intrinsic motivators focus mainly on the well-being and social-emotional needs of the staff.

Employee engagement

Perceived Organizational Support improves employee engagement within an organization. For companies, employees are a valuable source of human capital which have to be treated well. Due to a rapidly changing working environment, it is important that a good, trusting relationship exists between employer and employee. Think of uncertainties such as mergers, acquisitions, and technological developments: the result is that fewer and fewer people will ultimately be needed. By involving employees in decision-making processes, keeping them informed of the organization’s direction and objectives, one ensures a favourable relationship. This will make employees feel close to their company and will ensure a loyal attitude. Perceived Organizational Support ensures that an organization appreciates its employees’ work contribution. For employees, organizations are important sources of socio-emotional interaction, respect, and care. Once an organization fails to invest in its employees, its employee engagement will decrease noticeably.

Perceived Organizational Support key factors

Perceived Organizational Support is strongly driven by a number of key factors, with the following four being the most dominant:

Perceived Organizational Support (POS) key factors - toolshero

1. Effective Leadership

According to Eisenberger and Rhoades, effective leadership primarily entails the support that managers give their employees. The better this support is, the more supported their staff feel, and the more they enjoy their work. Perceived Organizational Support (POS) increases when executives express their appreciation for their employees’ work. This leads to reciprocity because if employees do their work well, it means that they receive more compliments from their supervisors. By working on an equal footing, managers are also able to involve their employees in decision-making and in business and departmental objectives.

2. HR Policy

Organizational rewards and terms of employment are matters that fall under the scope of good HR policy. Both have to do with the aforementioned extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. In particular, a good salary offers the opportunity to turn a bitter employee into a satisfied person. In addition, HR policy can focus on the following components to stimulate employees and keep them motivated:

  • Opportunities for promotion and advancement
  • Challenging and varied functions
  • Providing job security in the form of fixed contracts after an annual contract
  • Offer and possibility for education and training

3. Fairness

When employees feel that they are being treated fairly in relation to their colleagues, they feel supported, seen, and heard. The so-called ‘equity theory‘ indicates that employees provide work that corresponds to the salary they receive for it and vice versa. In this respect, the harder an employee works, the more they expect to be paid because they strive for a good balance. In doing so, employees are well aware that a higher hierarchy means higher salaries. However, if there is an imbalance and a lower-ranked employee receives a higher salary than a higher-ranked employee, this will have negative consequences for Perceived Organizational Support. In addition, fair treatment can also be described as procedural justice within the organization, and the norms and values in which everyone communicates openly and honestly with each other.

4. Working Conditions

This is a rather abstract concept and can be explained by the freedom that employees enjoy whilst doing their work in an independent manner in a pleasant working environment. Work autonomy increases production and ensures that employees maintain their own responsibility and remain loyal to the organization. It makes them independent and confident and encourages them to do the job well. The right facilities, good and up-to-date tools, and a pleasant work/rest arrangement are also part of the working conditions and increase Perceived Organizational Support.

Behavioural Outcomes

Employees have a general perception of the extent to which an organization values their labour contributions and cares about their well-being. An increased Perceived Organizational Support then leads to positive behavioural outcomes for employees, including increased performance, greater involvement, and less absenteeism. POS offers employees a simple way to understand their organization’s appreciation. A number of other behavioural outcomes of a high Perceived Organizational Support are:

  • Reduced stress among employees
  • Earlier return to the workplace after sick leave
  • Improved performance
  • High degree of employee commitment to the organization
  • Positive, active, and loyal work attitude
  • Employee satisfaction

In addition, research suggests that employees can develop Perceived Organizational Support themselves to meet the organization’s need for approval, appreciation, and affiliation. They are therefore in a better position to help the organization achieve its business objectives, leading to increased work effort, commitment, and performance.

However, if no attention is paid to the well-being and social and emotional needs of employees, this will have a negative effect on Perceived Organizational Support. Employees will be difficult to motivate intrinsically and extrinsically and won’t be prepared to work a little harder for the benefit of the organization. The ‘us’ feeling is gone and employees no longer feel the organization standing behind them in support, but rather standing against them. This can lead to less motivation, work stagnation, failure to meet deadlines, lax task execution, more frequent and longer sick leave, and ultimately to employee absenteeism. Companies will have to realise the usefulness of Perceived Organizational Support in order to achieve increased labour productivity.

It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Recognize the above practical explanation or do you have any additions? What are your experiences with Perceived Organizational Support (POS)?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

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More information

  1. Eisenberger, R., Huntington, R., Hutchison, S., & Sowa, D. (1986). Perceived organizational support. Journal of Applied psychology, 71(3), 500.
  2. Eisenberger, R., Stinglhamber, F., Vandenberghe, C., Sucharski, I. L., & Rhoades, L. (2002). Perceived supervisor support: Contributions to perceived organizational support and employee retention. Journal of applied psychology, 87(3), 565.
  3. Moorman, R. H., Blakely, G. L., & Niehoff, B. P. (1998). Does perceived organizational support mediate the relationship between procedural justice and organizational citizenship behavior?. Academy of Management journal, 41(3), 351-357.

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Patty Mulder
About the Author

Patty Mulder is an Dutch expert on Management Skills, Time Management, Personal Effectiveness and Business Communication. She is also a Content writer, Business Coach and Company Trainer and lives in the Netherlands (Europe).
Note: all her articles are written in Dutch and we translated her articles in English!

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