1. When it comes to looking for jobs, it’s not how many you know, but how well you know them

    September 11, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences press release:

    While online networking sites enable individuals to increase their professional connections, to what extent do these ties actually lead to job opportunities? A new study in the INFORMS journal Management Science finds that, despite the ability to significantly increase the number of professional connections and identify more job leads with limited effort on these sites, unless the connection is a strong one, they typically will not lead to job offers.

    The study, “To Be or Not to Be Linked: Online Social Networks and Job Search by Unemployed Workforce,” was conducted by Rajiv Garg of the University of Texas and Rahul Telang of Carnegie Mellon University.

    The authors surveyed 424 LinkedIn users (all of whom were college graduates and either current or recent job seekers) regarding five major job search avenues: Internet sites (e.g., Monster.com), online social networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn), offline friends and family, newspapers and other print media, and recruiting agencies and career centers.

    The study showed that the highest number of job leads were generated by the Internet job boards, followed by LinkedIn. And while on LinkedIn, weaker ties provided marginally more job leads than strong connections, actual interviews and job offers resulted primarily from strong connections. On average, a 10 percent increase in the number of strong connections on social networking sites resulted in a .7 percent increase in the number of job offers, while a 10 percent increase in the number of weaker connections actually caused a 1.3 percent decrease in the number of job offers.

    “We found that strong ties have a significant and positive effect on job interviews,” said Telang. “Weak ties, on the other hand, while they had a greater impact on job leads, have a statistically insignificant impact on job interviews.

    “One possible interpretation is that, for leads to convert into interviews, your connections will most likely be required to conduct follow up on their end, such as make phone calls or provide recommendations,” added Telang. “If the connection is weak, these individuals may be less likely to undertake these efforts.”


  2. Gaining influence over others does not increase autonomy

    August 29, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Kent press release:

    Moving up the greasy pole in the office does not make people feel more personally free, new research has shown.

    The research, from the University of Kent, looked at whether exercising influence over others in social situations, such as at work, leads to a greater sense of personal freedom or ‘autonomy’.

    The study found that there was no correlation between elevated social influence, or ‘power’ and elevated personal freedom, suggesting that the relationship between influence and autonomy diminishes with increasing levels of power.

    However, the research, by Dr Mario Weick and Stefan Leach of the University’s School of Psychology and Dr Joris Lammers from the University of Cologne, Germany, did find that a lack of personal power correlates with a lack of social power.

    In one study 800 people from the US, UK, Germany and India were asked to recall events they thought of as either high or low in influence and high or low in autonomy. The researchers then asked participants how influential and autonomous they felt in these situations.

    A second study, asking 200 people to report how much influence and autonomy they experience in their everyday lives, confirmed that the relationship between influence and autonomy grows weaker with increasing levels of power.

    The research suggests that gaining influence over people does not lead to increased personal autonomy. Among the reasons for this, the researchers suggest, is that with every gain in discretionary abilities and control, for instance at work, individuals also gain additional responsibilities and often face an increase in scrutiny.


  3. ‘Smiley’ emojis in formal workplace e-mails could create frowns

    August 26, 2017 by Ashley

    From the American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev press release:

    A smiley face emoji and similar emoticons included in work-related e-mails may not create a positive impression and could even undermine information sharing, according to a new study by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).

    “Our findings provide first-time evidence that, contrary to actual smiles, smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence,” explained Dr. Ella Glikson, a post-doctorate fellow at the BGU Department of Management, Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management. “In formal business e-mails, a smiley is not a smile.”

    According to a new paper, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers from BGU, University of Haifa and Amsterdam University conducted a series of experiments with a total of 549 participants from 29 different countries.

    In one experiment, the participants were asked to read a work-related e-mail from an unknown person and then evaluate both the competence and warmth of that person. The participants all received similar messages. Some included smileys while others did not. The results demonstrated that in contrast to face-to-face smiles, which increase both competence and warmth, the smileys in an e-mail had no effect on the perception of warmth, and in fact had a negative effect on the perception of competence.

    “The study also found that when the participants were asked to respond to e-mails on formal matters, their answers were more detailed and they included more content-related information when the e-mail did not include a smiley,” says Dr. Glikson. “We found that the perceptions of low competence if a smiley is included in turn undermined information sharing,”

    In another experiment, the use of a smiley was compared to a smiling or neutral photograph. The findings show that in case of a photograph, a smiling sender was perceived as more competent and friendly than a neutral one. However, when e-mail on formal work-related matters included a smiley, the sender was perceived as less competent. The smiley did not influence the evaluation of the sender’s friendliness.

    Contributing to the ongoing discussion regarding the role of gender in use and interpretation of emoticons, this study found that when the gender of the e-mail writer was unknown, recipients were more likely to assume that the e-mail was sent by a woman if it included a smiley. However, this attribution did not influence the evaluation of competence or friendliness.

    “People tend to assume that a smiley is a virtual smile, but the findings of this study show that in the case of the workplace, at least as far as initial ‘encounters’ are concerned, this is incorrect,” Dr. Glikson says. “For now, at least, a smiley can only replace a smile when you already know the other person. In initial interactions, it is better to avoid using smileys, regardless of age or gender.”

    Dr. Cheshin of the Department of Human Services at the University of Haifa, and Prof. Gerben van Kleef of Amsterdam University also participated in the study. The study was funded by a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

     


  4. Study suggests managers can help prevent employees from working while sick

    August 24, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Wiley press release:

    A new study indicates that managerial support can help prevent employees who work extremely hard out of an obsessive drive (‘workaholics’) from forcing themselves to attend work when feeling sick. Such support from managers can also help address work-family conflict in workaholics.

    Increasing the awareness of supervisors of the harmful consequences and costs associated with showing up to work while ill (presenteeism) could allow them to recognise the value of rest and recovery. This could help prevent employees from feeling unable to cope efficiently with obligations pertaining to work and family.

    Managers should be trained to develop supportive leadership skills that are able to function as a protective factor buffering the detrimental association between an overwhelming compulsion to work and presenteeism,” said Dr. Greta Mazzetti, lead author of the International Journal of Psychology study.


  5. Study suggests individuals with bipolar disorder need workplace support

    August 23, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Michigan press release:

    People with bipolar disorder often find themselves unemployed due to exclusion, stigma and stereotypes directed at them at work, a new study found.

    These workers had to disclose their condition to co-workers and employers to receive special accommodations or more support, but often the outcomes are negative, say researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Los Angeles.

    “Our findings suggest disclosure may risk job security,” said Lisa O’Donnell, the study’s lead author who was a doctoral student at U-M’s School of Social Work when the research was conducted.

    The study examined the relationship between social stressors at work — such as isolation, conflict with others and stigmas — and how a person functions on the job.

    The 129 research participants, whose average age ranged between 47 to 51, came from the Prechter Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder. They answered questions about conflict at work, exclusion and stigma by co-workers, social support and their mood.

    High depressive symptoms and conflict contributed to greater work impairments, the research showed. Meanwhile, exclusion at work and impact of stigma (identified as weak, lazy or incompetent) with keeping a job predicted the person’s work status.

    Exclusion at work — which is a passive form of bullying — can lead to negative consequences, such as less social support from others, the researchers say.

    “The results…underscore the importance of intervening to improve relationships with co-workers and supervisors,” said Joseph Himle, U-M associate dean for research and professor of social work and psychiatry.

    The researchers say more research is needed to identify the challenges found in the work environment — including inflexible hours, lower wages, access to adequate health care coverage — that individuals with severe mental illness commonly experience.

    “These innovations have the potential to improve how this disadvantaged population functions at work and potentially prevent unemployment,” said O’Donnell, a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA.

    Individuals with bipolar disorder could benefit from working with mental health clinicians, such as social workers, to develop more strategic ways to disclose their illness work, Himle says.

    The findings appear in the Journal of the Society for Social Work & Research.


  6. Study suggests engaging in casual video game play during rest breaks can help restore mood in response to workplace stress

    August 19, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society press release:

    More than half of Americans regularly experience cognitive fatigue related to stress, frustration, and anxiety while at work. Those in safety-critical fields, such as air traffic control and health care, are at an even greater risk for cognitive fatigue, which could lead to errors. Given the amount of time that people spend playing games on their smartphones and tablets, a team of human factors/ergonomics researchers decided to evaluate whether casual video game play is an effective way to combat workplace stress during rest breaks.

    In their Human Factors article (now online), “Searching for Affective and Cognitive Restoration: Examining the Restorative Effects of Casual Video Game Play,” Michael Rupp and coauthors used a computer-based task to induce cognitive fatigue in 66 participants, who were then given a five-minute rest break. During the break, participants either played a casual video game called Sushi Cat, participated in a guided relaxation activity, or sat quietly in the testing room without using a phone or computer. At various times throughout the experiment, the researchers measured participants’ affect (e.g., stress level, mood) and cognitive performance.

    Those who took a silent rest break reported that they felt less engaged with work and experienced worry as a result, whereas those who participated in the guided relaxation activity saw reductions in negative affect and distress. Only the video game players reported that they felt better after taking the break.

    Rupp, a doctoral student in human factors and cognitive psychology at the University of Central Florida, notes, “We often try to power through the day to get more work finished, which might not be as effective as taking some time to detach for a few minutes. People should plan short breaks to make time for an engaging and enjoyable activity, such as video games, that can help them recharge.”


  7. Study shows corporate wellness programs lead to increased worker productivity

    August 17, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of California – Riverside press release:

    coworker, managerCorporate wellness programs have been shown to save companies money by reducing absenteeism and health insurance costs. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, UCLA, and Washington University in Saint Louis, Mo., have now quantified an additional benefit to companies’ bottom line, showing that a wellness program they studied resulted in higher productivity for all participating employees. This improvement was dramatic: approximately equal to an additional productive work day per month for the average worker.

    Titled “Doing Well by Making Well: The Impact of Corporate Wellness Programs on Employee Productivity,” the study’s first author is Timothy Gubler, an assistant professor of management in the School of Business at UCR. It is forthcoming in the journal Management Science.

    Almost 90 percent of companies use some form of corporate wellness programs, with the most comprehensive offering biometric health screenings, nutritional programs, fitness classes, and educational seminars on topics ranging from smoking cessation to work-life balance. A recent meta-analysis found that each dollar spent on wellness programs saves $3.27 in health care costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs.

    To quantify the additional benefit to companies through improved motivation and productivity, the current study examined individual productivity and medical data collected over a three-year period at five plants of an industrial laundry company in the Midwestern United States. The voluntary program was offered to workers, free of charge, at four of the five plants; the fifth did not participate because it used a different health insurance plan, providing a control group for the study.

    Employees who signed up for the program (about 85 percent of the staff) were offered access to a simple health exam that included drawing blood, taking blood pressure, and a health survey. Three weeks later, participants attended an educational seminar where a registered nurse presented them with a personalized health packet detailing their current health status and providing recommendations for improving their health. About two thirds of employees had a medical condition at the time of screening, according to an analysis by physicians hired by the researchers to evaluate the health data.

    After linking the medical data with individual worker productivity data, the authors found that participation in the wellness program increased average worker productivity by over 5 percent — roughly equivalent to adding one additional day of productive work per month for the average employee. By group, the results showed:

    Sick employees whose health improved during the program showed increased productivity levels that averaged 11 percent.

    Healthy workers whose health improved during the program showed increased productivity levels that averaged 10 percent.

    Healthy employees whose health did not improve during the program showed increased productivity levels that averaged 6 percent.

    Sick employees whose health did not improve did not show increased productivity levels.

    While unable to precisely identify the mechanisms driving improvements, Gubler said the increase in productivity was consistent with two factors: First, increased employee motivation that stemmed from higher job satisfaction and gratitude from those who discovered an undiagnosed illness; and second, improved capabilities due to improved physical and mental wellness. Employees who improved exercise and changed their diet saw the biggest increases in productivity.

    “By showing concern for workers, organizations can strengthen employees’ loyalty and commitment to the company. When workers discover unknown health problems through the program they may feel increased gratitude toward their employer and reciprocate that by increasing their efforts. Additionally, when programs help employees make healthy choices this can positively impact their wellness, mood, energy, and ultimately increase their productivity through increased capability,” Gubler said.

    Gubler said the findings add to a growing body of management research on the relationship between employee wellbeing and organizational performance. However, this is the first study to show a direct “causal link” for improvements in productivity through wellness programs, and employees improving their health.

    “Our research suggests that corporate wellness plans can boost employee satisfaction by offering a tangible benefit that empowers them to take care of their health in a way that’s integrated into their busy lives. The result is healthier and happier employees who are not only less expensive and less absent, but also more productive,” he said.


  8. Study links rude customers to workers’ shopping binges

    August 5, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Michigan State University press release:

    Service workers who face verbal abuse from customers during the workday are more likely to go on unnecessary shopping sprees in the evening, indicates new research co-authored by a Michigan State University business expert.

    The study of 94 call-center workers at a large bank in China found that customer mistreatment (e.g., customers who yelled, argued, swore, etc.) put the employees in a bad mood after work. This, in turn, led to damaging thoughts (ruminating about the mistreatment) and behaviors (impulse shopping).

    “Thus, stress from customers spills over to spoil people’s experiences outside of work,” said Russell Johnson, MSU associate professor of management.

    The findings from Johnson and colleagues — who surveyed employees multiple times per day for 15 consecutive workdays — are published online in the Academy of Management Journal.

    The researchers also tested two interventions and found a potential solution to the problem.

    On days when workers who thought about a recent incident where they helped customers (a “recall of prosocial action intervention”) or thought about an interaction from the customer’s viewpoint (a “perspective-taking intervention”) before starting work, it reduced their perceptions of mistreatment, reduced their negative mood and led to less rumination and impulse shopping.

    Becoming more prosocial shifts attention away from the self and reduces impulsive and individualistic acts, according to the study.

    “These recall and perspective-taking interventions are quick and easy exercises that customer-service employees can do prior to beginning the workday to reduce the stress from rude customers,” Johnson said.


  9. Study suggests strong friendships among women in the workplace reduce conflict

    August 2, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences press release:

    According to a new study in the INFORMS journal Organization Science, when employers foster an office environment that supports positive, social relationships between women coworkers, especially in primarily male dominated organizations, they are less likely to experience conflict among women employees.

    The study, “Gender and Negative Work Ties: Exploring Difficult Work Relationships Within and Across Gender at Two Firms” was conducted by Jenifer Merluzzi of George Washington University.

    Merluzzi surveyed 145 management-level employees regarding workplace dynamics at two large U.S. firms that were primarily male-dominated environments, with women representing less than one-third of the workforce and under 15 percent of the senior management.

    The study author found that, while men and women are equally likely to cite having a difficult co-worker, compared to men, women are more likely to cite another woman as a difficult coworker than they are to cite a man, or not cite anyone. However, this tendency is reduced among women who cite having more women coworkers for social support and friendship at work. Knowing that unique gendered network characteristics such as the gender compositions of an employee’s social support at work were associated with negative ties can help organizational leaders anticipate potential trouble spots within their firms where gendered conflict may erupt.

    “While gender diversity and inequality are well document topics in management, sociology and labor economics, few have looked closely at the gendered negative relationships within the workplace from a social relationship perspective,” said Merluzzi. “Understanding the relational side of conflict also bears practical importance as companies increasingly organize using diverse teams, heightening the reliance on informal ties between and within gender to get work accomplished.”


  10. Study suggests teacher burnout can be contagious

    July 30, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Michigan State University press release:

    Burnout among young teachers appears to be contagious, indicates a new study led by Michigan State University education scholars.

    The study found a significant link between burnout among early-career teachers and exposure to both a school-wide culture of burnout and burnout among the young teachers’ closest circle of colleagues.

    Surprisingly, the link was stronger to the school-wide culture of burnout than it was to burnout among close colleagues.

    “If you are surrounded by people who are downcast or walking around under a pall of burnout, then it has a high chance of spilling over, even if you don’t have direct contact with these folks,” said Kenneth Frank, professor of measurement and quantitative methods in MSU’s College of Education.

    “This study,” Frank added, “is one of the first to provide evidence that the organizational culture in schools can make a notable difference for early-career teachers’ burnout levels.”

    Frank co-authored the study with Jihyun Kim, an MSU doctoral student, and Peter Youngs, a former MSU scholar who’s now an associate professor at the University of Virginia. Their findings appear in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education.

    The researchers analyzed the survey data on burnout of 171 teachers who were in their first four years in the profession and 289 experienced teachers who served as the young teachers’ mentors or close colleagues.

    Kim, lead author on the paper, said she was interested in investigating teacher burnout based on her experiences as an early-career teacher in her native Korea, where she worked long days and weekends.

    Early-career teachers are particularly vulnerable to stress and burnout as they adjust to working full-time and respond to school and district expectations, she said. Further, schools often fail to provide teachers with enough resources, including the appropriate teaching materials, assistant teachers, professional development and preparation time.

    “These resources are critical not only for reducing teacher burnout, but also for closing gaps in students’ learning,” said Kim, who will begin work in the fall as an assistant professor of education at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

    Frank said teacher burnout is also tied to the current education policy environment. Controversial policies such as evaluating teachers based primarily on student test scores, merit pay for teachers and lack of voice in assignment of students to teachers can bring added pressure.

    “We know that early career teachers are susceptible to burnout because of the significant demands placed on them. It is also clear that the introduction of new reforms in K-12 education on a frequent basis adds to the pressures they experience,” Frank said.

    “If school administrators and policymakers are serious about promoting retention and reducing burnout among novice teachers, they should be aware not just of the curriculum they are advocating, or their rules and policies for teachers. They should also attend to how the organizational culture in their schools can have direct effects on burnout levels of their faculty.”