Workplace social support, supervisor-subordinate support, interpersonal relationships, employee performance.


         Interpersonal relationships among employees in the global workplace are facing challenges that could adversely affect employee performance. The retail sector of the South African economy is one of the largest employer of labour in the country. Employees in the South African retail sector found in a ‘rainbow’ environment are not excused from arduous interpersonal relationships, which positions them to be in need of social support. Although organizations realise that employees need social support, few studies have examined the role that supervisor/subordinate social support plays on an employee’s performance in the South African retail sector.
        This article investigates the presence or otherwise of interpersonal relationships through available support among categorized employees and its effect on their performance at work. A non-experimental research design was adopted and concurrent transformative mixed method research approach was used to examine bivariate connections among the variables. 163 supervisors and 147 subordinate employees in 4retail companies in South Africa were sampled. The findings of the quantitative data revealed that there was no significant connection between social support and employee performance, but the qualitative data findings unveiled the reasons for the dissociation between support and performance.
         The findings further indicated that supervisors’ and subordinate workers’ relationships were at low levels of relational attachment and social interaction. This validates the position of previous studies on social support. Participants purported that communication, training, teamwork, friendliness, respect for individuals, and information sharing were important factors that should assist employees to improve interpersonal relationships at work. The understanding of the knowledge of social support has been deepened by this study as it points to the possibility of mediation in future studies.

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