1. Study suggests too much business travel may increase risk of depression and sleep issues

    January 19, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health press release:

    People who travel for business two weeks or more a month report more symptoms of anxiety and depression and are more likely to smoke, be sedentary and report trouble sleeping than those who travel one to six nights a month, according to a latest study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and City University of New York. Among those who consume alcohol, extensive business travel is associated with symptoms of alcohol dependence. Poor behavioral and mental health outcomes significantly increased as the number of nights away from home for business travel rose. This is one of the first studies to report the effects of business travel on non-infectious disease health risks. The results are published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

    The Global Business Travel Association Foundation estimates there were nearly 503 million person-business trips in 2016 in the U.S. compared to 488 million in the prior year. “Although business travel can be seen as a job benefit and can lead to occupational advancement, there is a growing literature showing that extensive business travel is associated with risk of chronic diseases associated with lifestyle factors,” said Andrew Rundle, DrPH, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. “The field of occupational travel medicine needs to expand beyond its current focus on infectious disease, cardiovascular disease risks, violence and injury to bring more focus to the behavioral and mental health consequences of business travel.”

    The study was based on the de-identified health records of 18,328 employees who underwent a health assessment in 2015 through their corporate wellness work benefits program provided by EHE International, Inc. The EHE International health exam measured depressive symptoms with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), anxiety symptoms with the Generalized Anxiety Scale (GAD-7) and alcohol dependence with the CAGE scale.

    A score above 4 on the Generalized Anxiety Scale (GAD-7) was reported by 24 percent of employees, and 15 percent scored above a 4 on the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), indicating that mild or worse anxiety or depressive symptoms were common in this employee population. Among those who consume alcohol, a CAGE score of 2 or higher indicates the presence of alcohol dependence and was found in 6 percent of employees who drank. GAD-7 and PHQ-9 scores and CAGE scores of 2 or higher increased with increasing nights away from home for business travel. These data are consistent with analyses of medical claims data from World Bank employees which found that the largest increase in claims among their business travelers was for psychological disorders related to stress.

    Employers and employees should consider new approaches to improve employee health during business trips that go beyond the typical travel health practice of providing immunizations and medical evacuation services, according to Rundle, whose earlier research found that extensive business travel was associated with higher body mass index, obesity, and higher blood pressure.

    “At the individual-level, employees who travel extensively need to take responsibility for the decisions they make around diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, and sleep. However, to do this, employees will likely need support in the form of education, training, and a corporate culture that emphasizes healthy business travel. Employers should provide employees who travel for business with accommodations that have access to physical activity facilities and healthy food options.”


  2. Study suggests use of mobile devices at home can carry conflict to workplace

    January 16, 2018 by Ashley

    From the University of Texas at Arlington press release:

    A University of Texas at Arlington researcher is part of a team of authors who have found that using a mobile device at home for work purposes has negative implications for the employee’s work life and also their spouse.

    Wayne Crawford, assistant professor of management in UTA’s College of Business, was one of five authors on “Your Job Is Messing With Mine! The Impact of Mobile Device Use for Work During Family Time on the Spouse’s Work Life,” recently published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

    Dawn Carson, Baylor University; Meredith Thompson, Utah State University; and Wendy Boswell and Dwayne Whitten, Texas A&M University; also contributed to the study.

    In all, 344 married couples were surveyed. All participants worked fulltime and used mobile devices or tablets at home for work purposes.

    “There is plenty of research on technology and how it affects employees,” Crawford said. “We wanted to see if this technology use carried over to affect the spouse negatively at work.”

    The couples’ survey results showed that use of a mobile device during family time resulted in lower job satisfaction and lower job performance.

    “It’s really no surprise that conflict was created when a spouse is using a mobile device at home,” Crawford said. “They’re sometimes engaging in work activities during family time. What that ultimately leads to, though, is trouble at work for both spouses. So, whether companies care or don’t care about employees being plugged in, those firms need to know that the relationship tension created by their interaction with their employees during non-work hours ultimately leads to work-life trouble.”

    Abdul Rasheed, chair of the Department of Management, said Crawford’s work is illuminating for businesses.

    “That extra time spent on mobile devices after hours might not be worth it if the grief it causes results in productivity losses once the conflict is carried back to work,” Rasheed said. “Businesses have to think about accomplishing tasks more efficiently while people are at work.”


  3. Study suggests consumers less likely to go through with purchases when on mobile devices

    January 11, 2018 by Ashley

    From the University of East Anglia press release:

    Shoppers hoping to bag a bargain in the post-Christmas sales are much less likely to go through with their purchases if they are using phones and tablets to buy goods online.

    This is because consumers often worry they are not seeing the full picture on a mobile app or that they could be missing out on special offers or overlooking hidden costs, according to new research. Concerns about privacy and security can also motivate people to put items into their shopping baskets but then quit without paying.

    Although mobile apps are rapidly becoming among the most popular ways to shop online, the phenomenon of shopping cart abandonment is much higher than for desktop-based online shopping. According to Market Research firm Criteo , the share of e-commerce traffic from mobile devices increased to 46% of global e-commerce traffic in Q2 2016 however, only 27% of purchases initiated on this channel were finalized and conversion rates significantly lagged behind desktop initiated purchases.

    Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) investigating why this is so say it represents a huge challenge for online retailers, who are investing heavily in mobile shopping, but not reaping the rewards in successful sales.

    “Our study results revealed a paradox,” said Dr Nikolaos Korfiatis, of Norwich Business School at UEA. “Mobile shopping is supposed to make the process easier, and yet concerns about making the right choice, or about whether the site is secure enough leads to an ‘emotional ambivalence’  about the transaction – and that mean customers are much more likely to simply abandon their shopping carts without completing a purchase.”

    The researchers studied online shopping data from 2016-2017 from consumers in Taiwan and the US. They found that the reasons for hesitation at the checkout stage were broadly the same in both countries. In addition, shoppers are much more likely use mobile apps as a way of researching and organising goods, rather than as a purchasing tool, and this also contributes to checkout hesitation.

    “People think differently when they use their mobile phones to make purchases,” said Dr Korfiatis. “The smaller screen size and uncertainty about missing important details about the purchase make you much more ambivalent about completing the transaction than when you are looking at a big screen.”

    Flora Huang, the study’s lead author, added: “This is a phenomenon that has not been well researched, yet it represents a huge opportunity for retailers. Companies spend a lot of money on tactics such as pay-per-click advertising to bring consumers into online stores – but if those consumers come in via mobile apps and then are not finalising their purchases, a lot of that money will be wasted.”

    The team’s results, published in the Journal of Business Research, showed that consumers are much less likely to abandon their shopping baskets if they are satisfied with the choice process. App designers can help by minimising clutter to include only necessary elements on the device’s limited screen space and organising sites via effective product categorisation or filter options so consumers can find products more easily.

    Other strategies that might prompt a shopper to complete a purchase include adding special offers, or coupons for a nearby store at the checkout stage.

    “Retailers need to invest in technology, but they need to do it in the right way, so the investment pays off,” added Dr Korfiatis. “Customers are becoming more and more demanding and, with mobile shopping in particular, they don’t forgive failures so offering a streamlined, integrated service is really important.”

    The article ‘Mobile shopping cart abandonment: the roles of conflicts, ambivalence and hesitation’, by GH Huang, N Korfiatis, CT Chang, appears in the Journal of Business Research, published by Elsevier.

     


  4. Study suggests blurring the boundaries between work and personal life can lead to exhaustion

    December 29, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Springer press release:

    In working life it’s now almost expected that employees answer work-related emails after hours, or take their laptops with them on holiday. But the blurring of boundaries between work and personal life can affect people’s sense of well-being and lead to exhaustion. This is according to Ariane Wepfer of the University of Zurich in Switzerland who, together with her colleagues, published a study in Springer’s Journal of Business and Psychology.

    Wepfer and her colleagues recruited 1916 employees from a broad range of sectors in German-speaking countries to take part in an online study. Most were married (70,3 percent) and their average age was 42.3 years. Half of the participants (50.1 percent) worked 40 hours or more per week, while 55.8 percent were men. They were asked how well they were able to manage the boundaries between their work and non-work lives, for instance, how often they took work home, how often they worked on weekends and how often they thought about work during their time off.

    Participants also indicated whether they made time to relax after work to socialize or to participate in sports and other hobbies, and how diligently they made sure that their work did not interfere with their private lives. To measure a person’s well-being, the researchers considered participants’ sense of physical and emotional exhaustion as well as their sense of balance between work and non-work.

    The researchers found that employees who did not organise a clear separation between work and free time were less likely to participate in activities that could help them relax and recover from career demands. They were therefore more exhausted and experienced a lower sense of balance and well-being in the different key aspects of their lives.

    Employees who integrated work into their non-work life reported being more exhausted because they recovered less,” Wepfer explains. “This lack of recovery activities furthermore explains why people who integrate their work into the rest of their lives have a lower sense of well-being.”

    Wepfer says that within the contexts of occupational health it is important to understand the findings, the mechanisms behind them and the factors that determine to what degree people are able to draw a line between their careers and their personal lives. She believes that companies should have policies and interventions in place to help their employees to segment different aspects of their lives better, to their own benefit.

    “Organizational policy and culture should be adjusted to help employees manage their work-non-work boundaries in a way that does not impair their well-being,” says Wepfer. “After all, impaired well-being goes hand in hand with reduced productivity and reduced creativity.”


  5. How errors affect credibility of online reviews

    December 26, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Indiana University press release:

    Shoppers increasingly consult online reviews before making holiday purchases. But how do they decide which reviewers to trust?


  6. Study suggests willingness to support corporate social responsibility initiatives contingent on perception of boss’ ethics

    November 14, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Vermont press release:

    A new study shows that people who perceive their employer as committed to environmental and community-based causes will, in turn, engage in green behavior and local volunteerism, with one caveat: their boss must display similarly ethical behavior.

    The forthcoming study in the Journal of Business Ethics by Kenneth De Roeck, assistant professor at the University of Vermont, and Omer Farooq of UAE University, shows that people who work for socially and environmentally responsible companies tend to identify more strongly with their employer, and as a result, increase their engagement in green and socially responsible behaviors like community volunteerism.

    “When you identify with a group, you tend to adopt its values and goals as your own,” says De Roeck. “For example, if you are a fan who identifies with the New England Patriots, their objective to win the Super Bowl becomes your objective too. If they win it, you will say ‘we,’ rather than ‘they,’ won the Super Bowl, because being a fan of the New England Patriots became part of your own identity.”

    That loyalty goes out the window, however, if employees don’t perceive their immediate supervisor as ethical, defined as conduct that shows concern for how their decisions affect others’ well-being. Results show that the propensity for the company’s environmental initiatives to foster employees’ green behaviors disappears if they think their boss has poor ethics. Employees’ engagement in volunteer efforts in support of their company’s community-based initiatives also declines if they believe their boss is not ethical, though not as dramatically.

    “When morally loaded cues stemming from the organization and its leaders are inconsistent, employees become skeptical about the organization’s ethical stance, integrity, and overall character,” says De Roeck. “Consequently, employees refrain from identifying with their employers, and as a result, significantly diminish their engagement in creating social and environmental good.”

    Companies as engines for positive social change

    Findings of the study, based on surveys of 359 employees at 35 companies in the manufacturing industry (consumer goods, automobile, and textile), could provide insight for companies failing to reap the substantial societal benefits of CSR.

    “This isn’t another story about how I can get my employees to work better to increase the bottom line, it’s more about how I can get employees to create social good,” says De Roeck, whose research focuses on the psychological mechanisms explaining employees’ reactions to, and engagement in, CSR. “Moreover, our measure of employees’ volunteer efforts consists of actions that extend well beyond the work environment, showing that organizations can be a strong engine for positive social change by fostering, through the mechanism of identification, a new and more sustainable way of life to their employees.”

    De Roeck says organizations wanting to boost their social performance by encouraging employee engagement in socially responsible behaviors need to ensure that employees perceive their ethical stance and societal engagement as authentic. To do so, and avoid any perception of greenwashing – the promotion of green-based initiatives despite not practicing them fully – organizations should strive to ensure consistency between CSR engagement and leaders’ ethical stance by training supervisors about social and ethical responsibility. Organizations should also be cautious in hiring and promoting individuals to leadership positions who fit with the company CSR strategy and ethical culture.

    “Organizations should not treat CSR as an add-on activity to their traditional business models, but rather as something that should be carefully planned and integrated into the company strategy, culture, and DNA,” says De Roeck. “Only then will employees positively perceive CSR as a strong identity cue that will trigger their identification with the organization and, as a result, foster their engagement in such activities through socially responsible behaviors.”


  7. Study suggests workers may ‘choke’ under pressure of non-monetary incentives

    October 22, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville press release:

    Competition for non-monetary awards can have adverse effects on performance and may cause employees to “choke” under pressure, according to a new study by a University of Arkansas economist.

    Raja Kali, professor of economics in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, and colleagues at HEC Montreal, a business school in Canada, examined the performance of elite U.S. golfers between 2006 and 2012 and found that players underperformed when trying to qualify for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, which does not compensate them for participating.

    The findings, published in the Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, challenge historical findings indicating that non-monetary incentives like plaques, rings and “employee-of-the-year” competitions motivate employees to perform better.

    “In terms of broader impact or relevance to the way firms do business, these findings are important, because managers and firms in general probably do not realize that some non-monetary efforts to build morale or boost performance may not be helping,” Kali said. “In fact, they may be counterproductive.”

    The researchers focused on performances of elite golfers in PGA of America tournaments that qualified them for the Ryder Cup, the competition between U.S. and European golfers. Being part of an elite group of golfers and the opportunity to represent one’s country were identified as primary incentives for participating in the Ryder Cup.

    The Ryder Cup qualifying point system allocates a number of points to each PGA Tour tournament. During the qualifying period, which is typically two years, two editions of the same PGA Tour have a different value of Ryder Cup points. One year — the year previous to the Ryder Cup — there are few points, and the next year — the year of the Ryder Cup — there are many points, while all other aspects of the tournament are the same.

    The researchers’ strategy was to compare the performance of players across the same tournament in two subsequent years. By focusing on blocks of the PGA Tour tournament with similar economic incentives (prize money) but different glory incentives (Ryder Cup points), they could measure the effect of the latter.

    “We found significant evidence that the desire to attain glory — which, in this case, we defined as the effects of status, social esteem and respect — was a burden for player performance,” Kali said. “Furthermore, the players who underperformed the most were those who were in more desperate need of Ryder Cup points.”

    The researchers wanted to understand and add to the literature on non-monetary incentives, which are widely used by firms and are generally assumed to have a positive impact on worker performance. The new study is the first to examine non-monetary incentives in a competitive, entrepreneurial setting.

    It is also the first study to find evidence of diminished performance or failure — popularly referred to as “choking,” especially in the context of sports — when explicitly competing for non-monetary incentives.

    Choking under pressure, rather than risk-taking or intimidation by superstars, seems to be the reason behind underperformance, especially when the competitive pressure intensifies,” Kali said.


  8. Study links testosterone to stock market instability

    October 14, 2017 by Ashley

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

    In the U.S. today, the majority of professional stock market traders are young males and new evidence suggests biology strongly influences their trading behavior. According to a new study in the INFORMS journal Management Science, this could be a significant contributor to fluctuations in the market, as high testosterone levels can cause these traders to overestimate future stock values and change their trading behavior, leading to dangerous prices bubbles and subsequent crashes.

    The study, “The Bull of Wall Street: Experimental Analysis of Testosterone and Asset Trading,” was conducted by Amos Nadler of the Ivey Business School at Western University, Peiran Jiao of the University of Oxford, Paul Zak and Veronika Alexander of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, and Cameron Johnson at the Behavioral Health Institute at Loma Linda.

    The double blind study involved 140 young males, each of whom received a topical gel containing either testosterone or a placebo, prior to participating in an experimental asset market in which they were able to post bid and ask prices, as well as buy and sell financial assets to earn real money.

    The authors found that among groups that received testosterone relative to those who received a placebo, larger price bubbles formed, mispricing lasted longer, market dynamics changed to reflect increasing bidding and selling volume, and their perception of a stock’s value changed despite its being displayed throughout the study. While the traders who received the placebo displayed “buy low to sell high” behavior, those who had received testosterone adhered to “buy high to sell higher.”

    “This research suggests the need to consider hormonal influences on decision-making in professional settings, because biological factors can exacerbate capital risk,” said Nadler. “Perhaps the simplest recommendation is to implement ‘cool down’ periods to interrupt exceptionally positive feedback cycles and return the focus to assets’ fundamental valuations to reduce the possibility of biased decision-making.”

    “Based on our findings, professional traders, investment advisories, and hedge funds should limit the risk taken by young male traders,” continued Nadler. “This is the first study to have shown that testosterone changes the way the brain calculates value and returns in the stock market and therefore — testosterone’s neurologic influence will cause traders to make suboptimal decisions unless systems prevent them from occurring.”


  9. Study assesses effectiveness of deep promotional discounts

    October 5, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville press release:

    Many retailers employ discounts to attract customers, but it can be difficult for businesses to know what effect these discounts have on overall store performance, and few studies have analyzed store-level data to know for sure whether this strategy works.

    A new study published in the Journal of Retailing shows that promotional discounts increase store traffic and lead to higher overall profits, especially if the advertised products are staples — items such as meat and produce that are purchased frequently and by many customers.

    “Our results validate the widespread use of price promotions supported by feature advertising, such as those found in newspaper circulars,” said Dinesh Gauri, professor of marketing in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. “These featured promotions provided a beneficial impact on several key performance metrics, including store traffic, sales and profits.”

    Over a 49-week period, Gauri and co-authors Brian Ratchford at the University of Texas at Dallas, Joseph Pancras at the University of Connecticut, and Debabrata Talukdar at the University of Buffalo analyzed data on 27 product categories from 24 branches of a popular Northeastern grocery chain. Each week, the authors compiled data on overall traffic, sales per transaction, and profit margin for each store.

    They examined the impact of so-called “loss leader” strategies — the practice of deep promotional discounts to attract customers who will buy other items — on several product categories, including penetration (items bought by many people), frequency (frequently purchased items), storability (items that can be stored, such as paper napkins or plates), impulse items and national brand items.

    Their analysis of about 677,000 transactions, with an average value of $15.44 per transaction, showed that deep discounting, accompanied by a blitz of advertising promotions, achieved retailers’ goal of attracting more customers into stores and increasing overall profits. But the researchers’ main finding came with several caveats, Gauri said.

    Promotional discounts on both high-penetration, high-frequency items (staples such as meat and produce) and low-penetration, low-frequency items (beer and condiments) led to increased traffic but lower sales per transaction.

    “This suggests that these promotional discounts tend to attract small-basket customers,” Gauri said.

    However, discounts in these same categories were associated with higher overall profit margins, especially in the low-penetration, low-frequency category. Gauri said this suggests that the smaller transactions generated by the discounts contained an above average number of high-margin items, in addition to the discounted items.

    “We think this result was driven mainly by beer, which was featured almost every week,” Gauri said.

    These other findings can also give retailers an edge, the researchers said:

    • Broad discounting in one category may lead to diminishing returns.
    • On average, discounts on national brand items had a stronger impact on per-transaction sales than discounts on non-brands.
    • Consumers who took advantage of deep discount promotions on impulse products tended to buy products in more profitable categories.

  10. Lively tunes boost sales in crowded stores

    September 11, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Journal of Retailing at New York University press release:

    If a store is crowded, people tend to buy more if the sound system is playing a fast-paced song rather than a ballad. That’s what a team of researchers found in a field experiment across a chain of grocery convenience stores in Northern Europe.

    The researchers — Klemens M. Knoeferle of the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo; Vilhelm Camillus Paus, of Saatchi & Saatchi in Oslo; and Alexander Vossen of the University of Siegen, in Germany — conducted a longitudinal experiment to determine whether and to what extent music played a role in influencing shoppers when stores were more or less crowded. The authors noted that customer spending tracked an inverted U-shape as stores became more crowded. They found that when stores weren’t crowded, music had little effect, but as social density increased, music with an up-tempo beat spurred spending.

    In “An Upbeat Crowd: Fast In-store Music Alleviates Negative Effects of High Social Density on Customers’ Spending,” appearing in the September issue of The Journal of Retailing, the authors describe a six-week field experiment in 2014 that tested the interaction between manipulated music tempo and measured social density. The sample included 460 small stores and recorded a total of 43,676 observations about shopping basket value (SBV) and the number of purchased items. Compared with no music, as a store became more crowded, the average SBV was roughly 8 percent greater. The authors also observed that SBV was higher due to shoppers’ buying more items rather than more expensive ones.

    Managerial implications were clear: first, the authors say, retail managers should be aware of crowding’s effect on spending patterns and find ways to control it; second, ambient music is a relatively easy tool for retailers to mitigate crowding effects; and third, the authors provide a metric for measuring when social density demands some lively tunes. In addition, when customers are few, retailers might save royalty fees by not playing music, and because fast music in crowded stores motivated customers to buy more low-priced items, managers should prepare for a run on impulse purchases.