1. Study suggests bosses who ‘phone snub’ their employees risk losing trust, engagement

    January 2, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Baylor University press release:

    Supervisors who cannot tear themselves away from their smartphones while meeting with employees risk losing their employees’ trust and, ultimately, their engagement, according to new research from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.

    James A. Roberts, Ph.D., professor of marketing, and Meredith David, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, published their latest study — “Put Down Your Phone and Listen to Me: How Boss Phubbing Undermines the Psychological Conditions Necessary for Employee Engagement” — in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. Roberts and David are known nationally and internationally for researching the effects of smartphone use on relationships.

    Their newest study examines “boss phubbing” (boss phone snubbing), which the researchers define as “an employee’s perception that his or her supervisor is distracted by his or her smartphone when they are talking or in close proximity to each other” and how that activity affects the supervisor-employee relationship.

    “Our research reveals how a behavior as simple as using a cellphone in the workplace can ultimately undermine an employee’s success,” the researchers wrote. “We present evidence that boss phubbing lowers employees’ trust in their supervisors and ultimately leads to lower employee engagement.”

    The research is composed of three studies that surveyed 200, 95 and 118 respondents, respectively. Those 413 who were surveyed — representing both supervisors and employees — responded to statements that assessed the nature of their work, levels of trust and engagement. Examples of survey statements included: “My boss places his/her cellphone where I can see it when we are together,” “When my boss’ cellphone rings or beeps, he/she pulls it out even if we are in the middle of a conversation” and “I can rely on my supervisor to keep the promises he/she makes.”

    The study found:

    • 76 percent of those surveyed showed a lack of trust in a supervisor who phubbed them
    • 75 percent showed decreases in psychological meaningfulness, psychological availability and psychological safety
    • The lack of trust and decreases in those key areas led to a 5 percent decrease in employee engagement

    “Employees who experience boss phubbing and have lower levels of trust for their supervisor are less likely to feel that their work is valuable or conducive to their own professional growth, and employees who work under the supervision of an untrusted, phubbing supervisor tend to have lower confidence in their own ability to carry out their job,” David said. “Both of those things negatively impact engagement.”

    Roberts, who authored the book “Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?,” said this study offers significant managerial implications.

    “Phubbing is a harmful behavior,” he said. “It undermines any corporate culture based on respect for others. Thus, it is crucial that corporations create a culture embodied by care for one another.”

    David said employees and supervisors alike cannot be fully present in face-to-face interactions when distracted by their smartphones.

    “Developing the self-control to put away your smartphone in favor of meaningful, distraction-free interactions with your supervisor and other coworkers will yield benefits that far outweigh that text message, unread email or social media post,” she said.

    The study offered several steps that managers could take to change the culture and mitigate the negative effects of smartphone use.

    • Create a culture in which supervisors do not feel pressure to immediately respond to emails and messages from their superiors while meeting with their employees.
    • Structure performance criteria in a manner which motivates bosses to build healthy superior-subordinate relationships. This might include annual ratings by their subordinates.
    • Train supervisors and employees on the importance of face-to-face interactions and sensitize them to the potentially negative consequences of phubbing on employee attitudes and engagement.
    • Set formal smartphone policies by setting clear rules for smartphone use, access and security — and detail specific consequences for violating those rules.

    Roberts and David said as smartphones become more ubiquitous, researchers need to continue to study the implications in the workplace.

    “Given that smartphone use in the workplace is nearly universal and has become an integral mode of communication, it is crucial that researchers investigate the impact of smartphone use in the workplace on career choices and adjustment,” they wrote. “Today’s employees face the real possibility that, left unattended to, smartphone use may complicate their careers by undermining vocational adjustment and lowering their job engagement.”


  2. Study suggests “purposeful leaders” improve workplace morale

    June 26, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Sussex press release:

    People are happier and more productive when their leaders show strong morals, a clear vision and commitment to stakeholders, a new study has found.

    The growing importance of what is being described as ‘purposeful leadership‘ for the modern workplace is outlined in a new report for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

    When modern managers display ‘purposeful’ behaviours, employees are less likely to quit, more satisfied, willing to go the extra mile, better performers and less cynical, according to the researchers at the University of Sussex, the University of Greenwich, the IPA and CIPD.

    Professor Catherine Bailey at the University of Sussex said: “Our study shows that the modern workplace is as much a battle for hearts and minds as it is one of rules and duties.

    “People increasingly expect an organisational purpose that goes beyond a mere focus on the bottom line, beyond the kind of short-termist, financial imperatives that are blamed by many for causing the 2008 recession.

    “In turn, they respond to leaders who care not just about themselves but wider society, who have strong morals and ethics, and who behave with purpose.”

    Not much is known about what causes purposeful leadership or what impact it has — this new study is an attempt to fill this gap.

    Laura Harrison, Director of Strategy and Transformation at the CIPD, said: “Building on a number of studies on trust, decision making, and corporate governance, this study begins an examination of an under considered facet of leadership, purposefulness.

    “Much has been discussed about the critical nature of invoking and ‘living’ purpose in an organisation, but little around the alignment of this purpose to the internal, perhaps hidden, moral compass of an organisation’s leaders.

    “The challenge now is how we enable and support the development of leaders that people actually want to follow.”

    The research found that just one in five UK bosses describes themselves as a ‘purposeful leader’, highlighting a largely untapped opportunity for modern organisations to improve performance by reshaping the role of managers.

    The researchers suggest that there is much that organisations can do to foster purposeful and ethical leadership, including the adoption of relevant policies, leader role-modelling, alignment around a core vision, training and development, and organisational culture.

    Dr Amanda Shantz at the University of Greenwich says: “If organisations are serious about acting on the rhetoric of business purpose, and are to invest in achievement of their purpose, they have to reconsider the ways they select, develop and assess leaders.

    “The traditional focus on leader behaviours only goes so far as to develop their ability to perform in a role. Instead, what is required is a development of the whole person, while accepting that it is impossible to mould all individuals into a uniform model of morals and ethics.

    “The real challenge is not in trying to achieve perfect match between leaders’ and organisational values, but in ensuring that they complement each other in ways that best suit organisational circumstances at a given time.

    “This includes supporting leaders to successfully recognise and negotiate the differences between what they stand for and what the business intends to achieve, without detriment to the individual leader or the company’s operations.”

    Find more information at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/strategy/leadership/purposeful-leadership-report


  3. Values gap in workplace can lead millennials to look elsewhere

    March 19, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Missouri-Columbia press release:

    Much has been made in popular culture about millennials as they join the working world, including their tendency to job hop. Although this behavior often is explained as a loyalty issue, new research from the University of Missouri reveals one reason young workers choose to leave a firm is because they find a disconnect between their beliefs and the culture they observe in the workplace.

    “We were interested in workers’ values regarding sustainability and corporate sustainability practices and whether a gap existed,” said Rachel LoMonaco-Benzing, a doctoral student in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. “Not only did we find a gap, but we also found that workers were much more likely to leave a job if they felt their values were not reflected in the workplace.”

    For the study, LoMonaco-Benzing and Jung Ha-Brookshire, an associate professor of textile and apparel management and associate dean of research and graduate studies in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences, interviewed employees in the textile and apparel industry involved in corporate supply chains. They found that workers expressed the most frustration if their employers touted a commitment to environmental sustainability publicly but did not follow through substantively in areas such as:

    • Materials selection, including the use of recycled materials
    • Proper management of pollutants, including chemicals and dyes
    • Working conditions in textile factories
    • Product packaging, distribution and marketing to consumers

    “Fewer people of this generation are just looking for a paycheck,” Ha-Brookshire said. “They have been raised with a sense of pro-social, pro-environment values, and they are looking to be engaged. If they find that a company doesn’t honor these values and contributions, many either will try to change the culture or find employment elsewhere.”

    To ensure a good fit with a potential employer, the researchers recommend that job seekers speak with current and former employees at various levels of the organization, asking questions about areas that are particularly important to them, such as sustainability, work-life balance policies or community partnerships.

    Conversely, in order to attract and retain the best employees, the researchers encourage companies to understand that the new generation of workers have high ethical and social expectations. Being transparent with potential employees about corporate culture can head-off some frustration, they said. In addition, giving employees the opportunity to shape cultural decisions through membership on committees and outreach efforts will help to increase morale.

    “I think this is another sign to the industry that business as usual is not going to work if you want to attract and retain these valuable workers,” Ha-Brookshire said.

    The study, “Sustainability as Social Contract: Textile and Apparel Professionals’ Value Conflicts within the Corporate Moral Responsibility Spectrum,” was published in the journal Sustainability.


  4. Study suggests how people assess extent of individual responsibility in organizations

    December 6, 2011 by Sue

    From the Association of Psychological Science press release:

    News of employee misconduct always creates a whirlwind for the companies involved — think of Enron, Goldman Sachs and UBS, for example. But are these firms responsible for the actions of their employees? Or do individual members have distinct and independent responsibility separate from a group’s actions? New research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Boston College find that members of a cohesive group are judged to have less responsibility for their own individual actions.

    The study suggests that the more people judge a group to have a “mind” — that is, the ability to think, intend or plan — the less they judge a member of that group to have his or her own capacity to think, intent or plan, and vice versa. This is the so-called “trade off” in the way people view the group versus the way they view individuals in the group.

    This research, co-authored by Adam Waytz, assistant professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School, and Liane Young, assistant professor of psychology at Boston College, sought to explore this idea of “group mind,” as well as the consequences of those attributions for both groups and their members.

    According to the authors, the relationship between group mind and group-member mind has been largely unexplored, but it raises interesting questions about decision-making, blame and moral judgment.

    “People attribute minds to other individuals and rely on mental state inferences to explain and predict their behavior,” wrote Waytz and Young. “Little is known, however, about whether people also attribute minds to groups and consider that collectives, companies and corporations can think, intend and plan.”

    Predicting that an inverse relationship exists between attributions of group mind and member mind, Waytz and Young conducted four experiments to support their theory.

    The first experiment established the premise that the more “mind” that people attribute to groups, the less “mind” they attribute to group members. Waytz and Young asked participants to evaluate groups including specific corporations, professional sports teams and government entities on the extent to which each group has a mind of its own, the extent to which each average member of that group has a mind of his/her own, and the extent to which each group is cohesive. The results proved not only the original premise, but also that participants viewed cohesive groups as having particularly high group mind.

    Given that group mind has critical implications for judgments of responsibility, the second experiment tested the consequences of assigning group mind by rating the extent to which groups are morally responsible for their collective actions, and the extent to which each group member is responsible for the collective actions of the group. As a result, when participants assigned a single mind to a group, they also assigned responsibility for that group’s collective actions to the group’s body of members.

    The third experiment then tested the effect of perceived cohesiveness on assignment of group mind and responsibility, and found that groups perceived to be cohesive were assigned higher levels of both, and assigned low levels of individual minds within the group. As for the final experiment, Waytz and Young found that cohesive group members were not assigned individual responsibility for individual actions taken on behalf of the group.

    “The research can help explain how people justify hostility toward large collectives and how people come to treat members of groups as unique individuals,” the authors wrote.

    The study, “The Group-Member Mind Tradeoff: Attributing Mind to Groups Versus Group Members,” appears in the December 2011 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.