Category: stress

Resentment Keeps Family-Leave Policies Unused

Note: This story was originally published by the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch on August 9, 2013.tired-worker-11113002

In the Silicon Valley where I work, and across America, employers have created policies to be more responsive to employee needs for balance between work and personal life. For instance, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo! offer paid leave for new parents, and often throw in a nice “baby cash bonus.”

But my research shows that many employees might not take advantage of such perks.

Unfortunately, peer resentment often intrudes on an employee’s willingness to make use of work/family policies.

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Is Bullying and Abuse Slowly Killing Workers?

It seems to me that every few months, a flurry of news reports and research articles appear describing office and workplace bullying. In the popular press, these articles usually serve a descriptive function to inform those individuals who have never heard of such a phenomenon what it is. Of course, anyone who has been a target of a bully or witnessed a bullying encounter can easily describe to you the feelings. In one of my favorite research articles, Nightmares, Demons, and Slaves: Exploring the Painful Metaphors of Workplace Bullying, Sarah Tracy, Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, and Jess Alberts discovered that victims of workplace bullying typically think of themselves in terms such as “vulnerable children,” “slaves,” or “prisoners.” It is in these narrative accounts, that we really understand some of the psychological impacts of workplace bullying. However, many people still wonder what sort of physiological effect being a target or witnessing bullying might have on individuals.

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Job Stress is Associated with Other Non-Work Factors

No Copyright IndicatedIn a recent study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Canadian researchers have discovered that there are certain associations with job stress that may have been disregarded by prior researchers. In their study of 2,237 working adults, they found the following four main things:

  • Chronic exposure to high work stress can transform into burnout, mental disorders, and disability.
  • Workers with disrupted marriages and managers/professionals are more likely to identify their job as being associated with high stress.
  • Workers describe their jobs as being highly stressful, when they perceive that their actions have an effect on co-workers, the environment, and their company.
  • There are differential findings for calling jobs very stressful, depending on age, education, and marital status.

(list adapted from Page 37 of their study)

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When workers are supported, they work harder!

Most people, after reading the title of this post, may say “well…of course they do.” However, given the fact that so many American workers are unsatisfied with their work, it’s a wonder why so many organizational decision-makers focus on either monetary or punishment tactics to motivate their workforce. All the while, these same decision-makers fail to consider the impact of their organization’s culture on employee productivity.

First, let me start off by saying the following very important thing: (a) organizational culture is entirely communicative and (b) organizational culture is regularly changing (there are multiple sources to support those two assertions). Therefore, with those two things in mind, the culture of an organization can be changed with the implementation of proper communicative elements among the members of the organization. In this sense, one way to improve an organization is to improve the way that social support is communicated (see my dissertation for a very long and boring explanation on this topic).

I was excited when I saw the a post at UPI.com, which reported the findings of a research study on this very topic. Here is the article in its entirety (note that this is a direct quote):

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Negative Co-Worker Relationships Cause Death?

Happy EmployeesSo, imagine that you are an employee at a large corporation. You come in to work each day and you dread being there. You have a sordid relationship with your coworkers. That relationship manifests itself in a variety of ways, especially in how you and your co-workers treat each other. You and your co-workers seldom laugh, you regularly quarrel, and your communication is almost always task-related. You would never say that you have “friends” at your office; rather, you simply have co-workers. The culture of the organization where you work is negative, antagonistic, and pessimistic. You like the work that you do, but you hate the people that you have to work with.

Sound familiar? For many Americans, this is daily life in the workplace.

Guess what?? This regular struggle to create positive relationships with your coworkers may be slowly killing you.

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