Sat 24 Dec 2011
Businesses possess their own unique alchemy that results in a plethora of phenomena for researchers to explore. The employees and employers with whom they work also greatly benefit from the discoveries, as an enhanced understanding of the environment means an enhanced understanding of what needs to be done to smooth out any common issues. As one can probably assume, far, far more than 15 helpful studies exist shedding light on strategies both helping and hindering the health, safety, and efficiency of the office. But the following sure do make for an interesting, insightful start.
1. Forty percent of workers find their jobs “very or extremely stressful”:
A 1992 Northwestern National Life Insurance study still garnering attention today noted that 40% of American employees labeled their positions “very or extremely stressful.” It also revealed that one out of every four of these workers considered their careers the No. 1 source of stress in their lives. Suffice it to say, this makes job-related anxiety something of a public health issue.
2.Even nutritious diets can’t offset sedentary office lifestyles:
Meanwhile, back in the dark ages of 2010, a University of Rochester publication discovered that the ravages of workplace stress won’t dissipate in spite of a healthy diet. Of the 2,782 employees surveyed, between 72% and 75% qualified as overweight or obese regardless of whether or not they practiced proper nutrition. Researchers blame the largely sedentary lifestyle of the modern office drone, meaning exercise stands as pretty much the only viable solution to combating this less-than-healthy corporate lifestyle.
3. Sexual harassment hinders job performance:
The anti-PC will just love hearing the results of a study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, which — to nobody with one functioning neuron’s surprise — studied the correlation between workplace sexual harassment and compromised performance. No matter the gender of the victim or perpetrator, the dehumanizing practice creates a hostile work environment and its many anxieties deplete productivity and quality alike; it isn’t exactly “fun” or “cute” to constantly contend with objectification. Age, however, did play a role in how roughly sexual harassment hurt employees. Younger workers were more likely to suffer than their older contemporaries.
4. General bullying is actually more detrimental than sexual harassment:
The reason is probably because it’s more widespread, according to experts at University of Manitoba and Queen’s University. Their study pored over 110 reports published over the span of two decades in order to assess the damage’s true scope. Because legislation now protects against sexual harassment in the workplace, bullying through legal means such as intimidation, harsh and unwarranted criticism, denying information and resource access, and more continues unaddressed. Eighty-six out of 128 samples claimed some form of bullying occurs in their workplace, compared to 46 for sexual harassment and six for both dehumanizing behaviors.
5. Even workers passionate about their jobs suffer from severe burnout:
Université du Quebec à Montreal recognizes two different types of passion, identified by psychologist Robert J. Vallerand as “obsessive” and “harmonious.” Their studies focused on nurses in two different cultures (French and Quebecois) and identified that those harboring the former, more chaotic mindset were more at risk of burning out on the job than their counterparts enjoying the latter. In fact, nurses possessing harmonious passion actually reported higher rates of job satisfaction and fewer conflicts.
6.Telecommuting workers are happy workers:
Away from the confines of office politics, spontaneous scrutiny, interruptions, and work-life balance issues, telecommuters thrive. Professors Kathryn L. Fonner (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and Michael E. Roloff (Northwestern University) peered into the differences between telecommuting employees and their office-based counterparts, noting some fascinating findings. Specifically, stepping out of a workplace setting and nestling into something more personal improves performance and overall job satisfaction. Many companies still express reticence over allowing remote employees, but technological improvements make it easier and easier for them to accept, which will hopefully result in a healthier, more productive work force.
7.Engineering still fails at engaging women:
Only 11% of the engineering industry is of the female persuasion, although they make up 20% of graduates, discovered Nadya Fouad and Dr. Romila Singh. Around 1/3 of women who never enter their respective fields say they do so because of their perceptions painting engineering as a complete boy’s club. Of those who worked and eventually left, around half cited “working conditions,” “too much travel,” “lack of advancement,” and “low salary” as their primary motivation. Most disconcertingly, one out of every three felt either their boss, office, or the engineering industry as a whole proved unsuitable to their career needs.
8. Jargon makes audiences suspicious:
Corporate types employing highly specialized (often meaningless) language sow despair more than they inspire. A general communications psychology study by University of Basel and New York University revealed that obscure, jargon-y words and passive voice arouse suspicion above all else. Effective workplace leaders know how to convey goals and instructions clearly to earn their employees’ loyalty and ensure success.
9. Once the economy improves, 1/3 of American workers will be seeking employment elsewhere:
According to the 2010 Deloitte LLP Ethics & Workplace Survey, 65% of Fortune 1000 executives believe trust to be the motivating factor in employees quitting en masse once the American economy stops slumping. They’re not far off the mark. One-third of workers hope to switch jobs after economic stabilization, and a staggering 48% state losing faith and trust in their employers exists as their primary reason. A further 46% say they plan to bolt because of opaque communication between higher-ups and the lower echelons of the hierarchy.
10. Smokers generally suffer from lessened productivity than non-smokers:
Exceptions exist, of course, because exceptions always exist. But a Free University of Amsterdam survey of more than 14,000 Swedish employees discovered that smokers, on average, end up taking 11 more sick days than their abstaining contemporaries and suffer from poorer health. In addition, their performance suffers from taking frequent smoke breaks, which aren’t usually supposed to last more than 15 minutes but still stretch out sometimes. Gallup conducted a poll in 2000 revealing that 95% of American workers supported either an across-the-board smoking-at-work ban or severely limited breaks confined to specially ventilated areas.
11. Social media is definitely a thing that happens a lot:
Not to the point companies need to ban it outright, though, says Adrian Ott’s analysis of People-OnTheGo founder and CEO Pierre Khawand’s findings. He realized that an average of four hours of the workday goes toward juggling “multiple inboxes” for both professional and personal reasons, although only 6.8% say they keep up with social media purely because of work obligations. Although 80% of Gen-Y American employees admit they Facebook it up while on the clock, LinkedIn reigns supreme among management (63.8%), marketing (73.9%), and sales (74.2%) types.
12. American workplaces are getting more and more hostile:
Eighty percent of Americans believe they experienced rudeness radiating from their coworkers, and their offices only seem to be getting worse and worse, according to a Florida International University and Indiana Wesleyan University joint study. Even more disconcerting is the fact that 90% of respondents admit they themselves perpetuated the hostility! The culprit shouldn’t exactly surprise anyone. Increased job-related stress and anxiety owing to the spectacularly terrible economy spill over into work relationships and allow the problem to continue festering.
13. “White collar” workers are most at risk of information overload:
A worldwide productivity survey conducted by LexisNexis in 2010 put numbers to the increasing issue of information overload and overstimulation. Chinese workers suffer the worst, with 62% saying they’re close to hitting “the breaking point,” compared to 56% of South Africans, 51% of Australians, and 56% of both Americans and British participants. On average, about 51% find the amount of data crammed into their brains daily overwhelming to the point of near-burnout and exhaustion.
14. Dogs enable a happier, healthier and more productive workplace:
Man’s oft-touted best friend apparently delights owners in the workplace just as much as it does back at home. Research conducted at Central Michigan University and presented at the International Society for Human Ethology hooked some office groups of four with a canine companion and recorded their reactions, tested against those without. The ones enjoying a doggie running around reported easier coordination with their peers when working on a group assignment than those sans canidae. When it came time for them to assess their peers’ performances, they scored one another far more positively “on measures of trust, team cohesion, and intimacy” as well.
15.Employees in happier workplaces live longer lives:
The results of a two-decade study conducted by Tel Aviv University peered into the lives of 820 employees between the ages of 25 and 65 who worked an average of 8.8 hours a day. Out of the 53 who died during the research’s course, the vast majority suffered from an inability to socially gel with their contemporaries or a hostile work environment. Correlation doesn’t always equal causation, of course, but the connection does make medical sense. It’s pretty common knowledge by this point that individuals capable of forging healthy, mutually beneficial, and supportive relationships with others typically enjoy an extended lifespan.