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Have an unsupportive boss? It may be good for you, according to a new study which shows that dealing with emotional exhaustion at work can boost happiness. Researchers, including those from University of East Anglia in the UK, conducted three complementary studies involving a total of 500 employees in Portugal and the US. The participants worked in multiple occupations including management, architecture and engineering, business and financial operations, as well as office and administration support, sales, education and healthcare. The studies used different measures of emotional exhaustion, happiness and perceived supervisor support (PSS) and the participants were asked to complete questionnaires. Researchers found that perceiving low supervisor support stimulates the employee's engagement in developing an action plan which, when paired with what the researchers call instrumental social support - the activity of searching for advice, support or information from others - boosts happiness. Low PSS enhanced the relationship between emotional exhaustion and planning activities, whereas searching for instrumental social support enhanced the relationship between planning and happiness, researchers said. "Perceived supervisor support appears to be a double-edge sword, on the one hand preventing the emergence of emotional exhaustion but on the other hand diminishing the likelihood that employees will engage in planning to deal with the emotional exhaustion they are experiencing," said Ferreira Peralta of University of East Anglia. "It is important to note that it is not emotional exhaustion per se, but rather how people cope with it, that is beneficial for individuals," Peralta said. "Our findings suggest that the activities people engage in have a key role in building happiness from an internally stressful experience and that emotional exhaustion can have a silver lining," Peralta said. The study was published in the journal Work and Stress.
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