Offering help to a struggling co-worker or employee on the job can backfire, according to a new study.
The study explored that extending a helping hand was just as likely to make the situation worse, while simply making job resources available had a more consistent positive effect.
"Not all support is good support. Reaching out to offer help to a co-worker could end up insulting them," said Michael Mathieu, graduate student at San Francisco State University in the US.
Simply making support available is often better than overtly discussing it.
Offering job-related support such as a new equipment or career counselling performed roughly the same role as providing emotional support, like listening to a co-worker's problems.
"Sometimes offering support makes things worse, sometimes it makes it better," said Mathieu.
Results showed that support coming from a superior has a bigger impact than when it comes from a co-worker.
The study, published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, reviewed 142 studies.
The team from the varsity used a wide variety of measurements — from job satisfaction to job performance and even stressors like "role overload" (when an employee's workload is too large to handle).
"Before providing support, think about whether it is needed and whether it is wanted. "If it is not, maybe step back and do not provide that," Mathieu warned.