Category: Occupational

“Frenemies” Both Help And Harm Each Other At Work

By Emma Young

Think about your relationships with your colleagues… I bet there are at least some who you’d call “frenemies”. Maybe there’s a co-worker whose sense of humour you love, say — but who also irritates you by failing to pull their weight. In fact, the workplace is the ideal breeding ground for relationships that are characterised by simultaneous, strong positive and negative feelings — so-called “ambivalent relationships” (or frenemies) — note the authors of a new paper in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

It’s surprising, then, how little is known about how frenemies behave with each other, write Shimul Melwani at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Naomi Rothman at Lehigh University. So the pair ran a series of studies to find out.

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Supportive Male Allies Can Make Male-Dominated Workplaces Less Hostile For Women

By Emily Reynolds

Despite much work to counter unequal workforces in science, technology, engineering and maths, stereotypes about who will succeed in science still abound — and some research suggests that these biases can actively put people off certain careers or fields. Other papers find that the competitive nature of STEM courses and roles can be particularly damaging, leading to low feelings of belonging and subsequent low retention rates for minority groups.

A new paper looks at the role of men in countering hostile environments — in particular, how men can signal their support and respect for women colleagues. Over three studies, the University of Kansas team found that supportive male allies helped reduce feelings of isolation and hostility for their women colleagues, potentially offering a new way to combat inequality in STEM.

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“Zoom Fatigue” Disproportionately Affects Women And New Hires

By Emily Reynolds

Anyone who has worked from home will probably be familiar with the miserable, draining feeling of having spent too much time on Zoom. Such is the pressure of all-day-every-day video calling that some companies have even announced Zoom-free Fridays to give employees a little time away from their screens.

The fact that video-calling is tiring, then, will not be news to many of us. But a new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology explores in more detail who is affected the most, finding that both gender and length of time spent within an organisation both impact fatigue. And this suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach to combatting video call burnout may not work for everyone.

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Study Of Marching Band Shows That Resilience Is A Process, Not A Fixed Trait

By Emily Reynolds

Resilience allows you to bounce back when things get hard, whether that’s something as small as a bad day in the office or more serious adverse events. And while it can be easy to think of resilience as something we either do or don’t have, research suggests that isn’t the case: rather, our level of resilience changes in different contexts.

A new study, published in Group & Organization Management, looks closely at resilience in the workplace. It, too, finds that resilience isn’t a static phenomenon, and that it should be seen as something distinctly more flexible instead.

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When Bosses Are Respectful, Young People Are More Resilient At Work And Enjoy Their Jobs More

By Emily Reynolds

From ball pits to free beers, fun job perks have received plenty of press attention over the last few years. For millennials, such benefits should surely be appealing — they are, after all, the generation these perks were ostensibly designed for.

But according to a new study, young people themselves have a different priority in the workplace — respect. Writing in the International Journal of Business Communication, a team led by Danielle LaGree from Kansas State University finds that being valued and respected by managers was the key factor in employees’ ability to positively adapt to the workplace. And, in turn, this impacted how loyal workers were to their employers, how much they engaged in their work, and how happy they felt overall.

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“Service With A Smile” Requirement And Reliance On Tips Puts Workers At Risk Of Sexual Harassment

By Emily Reynolds

“Service with a smile” — having a friendly, cheerful demeanor when working with customers in retail or hospitality — has long been identified as having a negative impact on worker wellbeing. One 2019 study, for example, found that “faking it” was of significant detriment to service workers, whilst the term “emotional labour” was first used by sociologists to describe jobs which require workers to display positive emotions.

And when this requirement to provide service with a smile is combined with a reliance on tips for income, there can be horrible consequences, a new study suggests. A team led by the University of Notre Dame’s Timothy G. Kundro finds that the combination of financial dependence and deference to customers that tipping and emotional labour involves can lead to customers feeling like they have more power and ultimately sexually harassing workers.

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People In Positions Of Power Are More Likely To Blame And Punish Others For Poor Performance

By Emily Reynolds

Having a “choice mindset” — believing, in short, that people’s behaviours are “choices”, or deliberate actions driven by their own motives and preferences — has multiple benefits. Those with a choice mindset feel as if they have control over their own destiny, for example, and see better outcomes in negotiations.

There are some drawbacks, however. Choice mindsets can lead to victim blaming, a lack of care about inequality, and a reduced interest in acts of social good. A new study in Social Psychological and Personality Science takes a closer look at these more troublesome impacts. Yidan Yin from UC San Diego and colleagues find that people in positions of power tend to adopt a choice mindset, which makes them more likely to blame others for mistakes.

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Stressful Days At Work Leave Us Less Likely To Exercise

By Emily Reynolds

After an incredibly stressful day of work, which are you more likely to do: walk several miles home, or get on a bus straight to your door? While the first option certainly comes with increased health benefits — including, potentially, decreased stress — many of us would choose the second anyway.

A new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, seeks to understand why, even when we know how positive exercise can be, we often fail to be active after work. It could come down to how high-pressure your job is, according to Sascha Abdel Hadi from Justus-Liebig-University Giessen and team — and how much control you have over your work.

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Self-Reflection Can Make You A Better Leader At Work

By Emily Reynolds

What does being a good leader mean to you? Having tonnes of charisma? Being intelligent? Encouraging fairness and participation in the workplace? Whatever combination of qualities you value, it’s likely that your vision of good leadership is different from your colleague’s or your manager’s, who themselves will have a highly personal vision of who they want to be at work.

A new study from Remy E. Jennings at the University of Florida and colleagues, published in Personnel Psychology, looks closely at this individualised idea of leadership — our “best possible leader self”. If we focus and reflect on this best possible self every morning, they find, it could help us behave more like a leader in the here and now.

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Good Time Management Seems To Have A Bigger Impact On Wellbeing Than Work Performance

By Emily Reynolds

As our lives have become busier, desire to do things quickly and efficiently has grown — something the rise of speed reading apps, lack of break-taking at work, and a general focus on “productivity” has shown. Good time management skills, therefore, are now highly prized both at work and at home.

But do such techniques actually work? In a meta-analysis published in PLOS One, Brad Aeon from Concordia University and colleagues find that they do — but perhaps not for the reasons you’d expect. While time management skills have become more important in evaluations of job performance since the 1990s, their biggest impact lies elsewhere: in personal wellbeing.

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