Uncovering employees’ supervisor support needs in the hybrid workplace
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Human Resource Management research in the past few decades has developed an interest on the support that employees need in their work environment. Supervisors have been recognized as one of the most prevalent sources of support for their subordinates, yet research on the supervisor support needs of employees is limited. The scientific and practical ambiguity in the identification of these needs and examination of their (un)satisfaction broadens when they are viewed under the prevalent hybrid work environments. This study aims to identify the support needs that employees develop in a hybrid working environment and to examine whether and in which ways these needs are satisfied or remain unsatisfied by their supervisors. Further, this paper will explore the reasons that could explain the (un)fulfilment of employees' support needs whilst working hybridly. In order to investigate the areas that employees require support in a hybrid setting, this paper first explores previous literature on hybrid work, supervisor support, employees' needs from their managers as well as supervisors' support capacities. In the examination of the employees’ support needs and supervisors’ support supplies the theory of Person-Supervisor Fit (PS) is employed. Through this theory, the present study investigates if and how hybrid workers' needs fit or misfit their supervisors’ support capacities. In addition, the theories of PS Fit and specifically Value (in)congruence, Leadermember exchange, as well as the theories of (Un)Shared perceptions, and Climate strength enrich the examination of the reasons that could explain the abovementioned fit/misfit situations. This research takes place in a telecommunications company in the Netherlands. The method that this paper adopts is qualitative research using interviews with employees and focus groups with supervisors in order to explore the above subjects. The findings of this research show that the predominant needs that employees have from their supervisors while working hybridly are communication, work-life balance, and trust. The participants in some instances considered the support provided in the areas of communication and work-life balance as insufficient, however, in most cases, employees perceived that the supervisor support provided to them was satisfactory. The most prominent reason for the lower level of person needs-supervisor supplies fit or even misfit is value incongruence, and poor LMX, whilst fit was explained because of value congruence and good Leader-member exchange relationships. Finally, this research emphasizes the multiple dimensions that the (un)satisfaction of employees’ supervisor support needs entails and areas where future research could provide more insights.