Leaders often have to deal with employees’ negative emotions. Whether employees are feeling anxious about a project, feeling sad about being turned down for promotion, or feeling angry about being unfairly treated, leaders play a part in managing these emotions. New research (Little, Gooty, & Williams, 2016) has shown that how these emotions get handled can affect employees’ performance and how they feel about their jobs.
Organizational citizenship behavior means going the extra mile at work. Basically, it means doing anything that is not in your formal job description. We typically think of organizational citizenship behavior (or OCB) as something we do to help benefit our organization or the people we work with. In that sense, we might think of OCB as selfless giving that is actually to our own detriment. It makes sense, right? We only have a limited amount of time and resources during the day. If we do more than we need to do, we run the risk of burnout, fatigue, and stress. This is also supported by past research. However, new research shows that OCB can actually provide some advantages for the people performing it.
Emotional exhaustion at work can happen because we are all capable of hiding our true emotions and acting in ways contrary to how we feel. For example, think of that time when you were annoyed with a customer but kept your cool. As you can imagine, maintaining this facade can be emotionally exhausting, especially in a service environment. This feeling can have serious implications for work attitudes and behavior. In a service environment, the “customer is always right” approach requires emotional labor, which can deplete emotional resources and ultimately erode performance.
Companies often explore new ways to increase employee productivity and job satisfaction. They don’t generally consider work breaks a good way to make that happen. But breaks from work, such as evenings, weekends, and vacations, can help reduce burnout, increase job performance, and lower blood pressure. On the other hand, work fatigue can lead to serious deficits in productivity and is linked to serious health issues and burnout. New research by Hunter & Wu (2015) explores the impact of work breaks on recovering from resource depletion, which is when resources such as energy or attention get used up.
Human capital refers to specific employee characteristics that can make a business successful. Traditionally, industrial-organizational psychologists have used the acronym “KSAO”, which stands for knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics, to classify an employee’s work-related capabilities. When these KSAOs are useful for an organization’s overall economic outcomes, they are considered human capital.
Work overload and job demands have been infamously related to many workplace problems, for both employees and employers. However, most research views work overload as something that builds over time, perhaps weeks, months, or years, and can lead to harmful effects that are measured over the long-term. New research (Dai, Milkman, Hofmann, & Staats, 2015) clearly shows that work overload is something that can accumulate over the course of a single workday, and have immediate harmful effects.
Leadership style is often indicative of the type of emotional response strategy that leaders will use when interacting with their employees. According to the researchers (Arnold, Connelly, Walsh, & Martin Ginis, 2015), leaders engage in three primary response strategies: surface acting, deep acting, and genuine emotion. They say that the type of response strategy will affect the likelihood that a leader will experience burnout. Here is a brief description of each type of acting that leaders may use:
Email overload is something most of us have probably experienced. Too much email can be problematic because we might spend too much time responding to email instead of doing actual work. But researchers have found another problem with technology like email. We feel a tremendous amount of pressure to respond quickly, even when the message may not need a quick response. This pressure can be harmful to employees in many different ways, and undermine the very advantages that email was supposed to provide.
In our currently aging workforce, one in five workers are now age 55 or older. Given this changing demographic, it is important to identify the factors that lead to early departure from the workforce. One of the critical factors is perceived work ability, or the balance between personal resources and work characteristics. In order to prevent premature departure of the workforce, this study (McGonagle, Fisher, Barnes-Farrell, & Grosch, 2015) identified what leads to perceived work ability, and what happens when employees experience it.
Currently, one in five American families includes an individual with caregiving duties, and caregivers in the workplace are becoming much more common. Given the advent of the sandwich generation, or those people who care for both children and aging parents, this number is expected to rise. Even more, the increase of women in the workforce is leading to more working caregivers than ever before, because women tend to be the primary caregiver to both children and elderly parents.
Research that investigates perceptions of fairness and justice-related behavior has normally focused on recipients. We still know relatively little about how justice affects the actors, for example the cost of being consistently fair to employees for those in leadership roles. Acting justly has always been considered beneficial but it is important to realize that this may come at a price for some people.
Flow at work is an enjoyable peak experience that happens when an employee feels completely engrossed in a challenging project or activity. Not surprisingly, this kind of experience means great returns from employees in terms of performance and productivity. Unfortunately for most, it is not a permanent experience, and instead varies considerable on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Earlier research suggests that flow starts out high, dips, and then increases again, within any given day. This research sought to determine whether this was the case and also explore what the possible predictors of optimal and decreased flow may be.
The typical workplace has many different personality types: Happy employees, charismatic employees, ambitious employees, egotistical employees, and many others. But have you ever thought much about employees who fear death? It’s not the kind of personality trait that you’d think has relevance in the workplace, but new research by Sliter, Sinclair, Yuan, and Mohr (2014) has shown that death anxiety has important implications on employee success.
Have you ever felt frustrated by an inability to stop thinking about work, even when you’re not on the clock?
All these worries and stress after-hours may actually hinder our ability to function at work. Failing to mentally disengage from work (also known as psychological detachment from work) is related to exhaustion, one of the key signs of burnout.
In a new study, titled “Exhaustion and lack of psychological detachment from work during off-job time: Moderator effects of time pressure and leisure experiences,” researcher Sabine Sonnetag and her colleagues investigated this link.
Job titles serve important functions in organizations. They help with job categorization, communicate qualifications, and facilitate the development of initial trust in team collaboration.
For employees, job titles are the first information we communicate to prospective clients, new acquaintances, and the outside world in general. They indicate certain competencies and status, recognize contribution, and engender pride in identity. However, job titles can also cause frustration if they fail to convey such information, or if they highlight stigmatized aspects of the jobs.
One of the newest concepts that people are talking about (at least here in Colorado) is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state in which you pay attention to the present without making judgments, negative or positive, about the feelings or thoughts you have. You’ve probably heard of it, and maybe you’re a little bit skeptical. Very few studies are out there that investigate mindfulness in the workplace, but a team of researchers in the Netherlands, led by Ute Hülsheger, recently set out to determine the benefits of mindfulness at work.
Topic: Burnout, Stress, Goals
Publication: Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Article: The 2×2 model of goal orientation and burnout: The role of approach-avoidance dimensions in predicting burnout
Authors: Naidoo, L. J., DeCriscio, A., Bily, H., Manipella, A., Ryan, M., & Youdim, J.
Reviewer: Neil Morelli
There have been times when we’ve all felt a little burned out from work. When we feel burned out the usual suspects are situational factors like the job, occupation, organizational characteristics, leadership, and individual differences. But there is one variable that has typically been ignored in the literature—our motivational dispositions, or in other words, our goals.
Publication: Academy of Management Review (JUL 2012)
Article: Catching Falling Stars: A Human Resource Response to Social Capital’s Detrimental Effect of Information Overload on Star Employees
Authors: James B. Oldroyd and Shad S. Morris
Reviewer: Susan Rosengarten
Every organization has its “star employees”—those people whose performance seems to outshine the rest. People are drawn to star performers because of their great importance within their firms and thus stars tend to have more social capital than the average employee. Through their interconnected webs of contacts and connections, stars gain access to more information than average employees, which can be overwhelming. Furthermore, information overload can negatively impact star employees’ performance and can make them less likely to share valuable information with other employees, ultimately hurting their organization’s bottom line. Even worse, frustrated stars who feel inundated by information requests may feel the need to leave for firms with less demanding environments.
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (2012)
Article: Job burnout and depression: Unraveling their temporal relationship and considering the role of physical activity
Authors: Toker, S., & Biron, M.
Reviewed by: Larry Martinez
Feeling stressed? Tired? Depressed? Burnt out at your job? Conventional wisdom would suggest that you need more sleep or at least a more tranquil environment. However, research by Toker and Biron (2012) would suggest a very different and somewhat more surprising prescription: physical exercise.
Topic: Burnout, Leadership, Talent Management
Publication: The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist (JAN 2012)
Article: Accelerating the Development and Mitigating Derailment of High Potentials Through Mindfulness Training
Authors: R.A. Lee
Reviewed By: Chelsea Rowe
High Potential employees (HiPos) are the highly sought after, cream of the crop, high performing, next generation leaders. Senior management proactively seeks these stars and then sends them through numerous assessments, coaching, special training, and other rigorous developmental opportunities with the intention of producing a bigger, better, faster, stronger next generation of leadership for their company. Despite confidence and extra investment in these HiPos’ promise, these shining stars often fail to live up to their fabled promise or worse: burnt out. So how can companies increase the likelihood of retaining their stars and develop them without burning them out?
Topic: Health & Safety, Organizational Justice, Fairness, Burnout, Stress
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (2012)
Article: Perceived Unfairness and Employee Health: A Meta-Analytic Integration
Authors: Robbins, Jordan M.; Ford, Michael T.; Tetrick, Lois E.
Reviewed By: Lauren A. Wood, M.S.
Practitioners and employers alike have expressed concern around the effects of poor employee heath. When employees are not well, the organization can not only incurs costs due to direct medical expenses, but can also pay for poor employee health in the form of absenteeism, decreased productivity and moral, and even turnover.
Publication: Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research (2011)
Article: EAP utilization patterns and employee absenteeism: Results of an empirical, 3-year longitudinal study in a National Canadian Retail Corporation
Authors: Ashley Spetch, Alex Howland, and Rodney L. Lowman
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin, M.A.
If time is money, how do corporations reduce the amount of time that their employees miss from work, and in turn, make more money? In addressing this line of inquiry, Spetch, Howland, and Lowman investigated the relationship between the utilization of the employee assistance program (EAP) and absenteeism over a three-year period. In using an archival data set of EAP use by the 3,448 employees of a national Canadian company, it was found that those who utilized EAP services were absent more during they year that they sought assistance and had rates of absenteeism equal to those who did not seek services during the preceding and following years.
Publication: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (MAY 2008)
Article: Making Choices Impairs Subsequent Self-Control: A Limited-Resource Account of Decision Making, Self-Regulation, and Active Initiative
Authors: Kathleen D. Vohs, Roy F. Baumeister, Brandon J. Schmeichel, Jean M. Twenge, Noelle M. Nelson, and Dianne M. Tice
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin
Does decision-making impair subsequent self-discipline? In other words, after you decide if you want to read this review or not, will you no longer be able to resist the glazed donut in the office kitchen? Though some previous research has shown that making decisions can be exhausting, little research had explained why.
Topic: Burnout, Engagement
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior (SUMMER 2011)
Article: Social strategies during university studies predict early career work burnout and engagement: 18-year longitudinal study
Authors: Salmela-Aro, K., Tolvanen, A., Nurmi, J. E.
Reviewed by: Larry Martinez
Sure, there are days when we just don’t want to go to work. In these times, the very thought of going in to the office can make one cringe…we feel like we need a long, isolated vacation. In short, we’re burned out. This is a big problem for companies, who rely on employees to be actively engaged and energetic at work. However, it may be that some people are more or less intrinsically susceptible to burnout and disengagement at work. That is, some people just have burnout-prone personality characteristics and thus may be unwise investments for employers. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could figure out who these people are likely to be? Salmela-Aro and her colleagues (2011) address this issue directly.
Topic: Health and Safety, Motivation, Human Resources
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JAN 2011)
Article: Safety at Work: A Meta-analytic Investigation of the Link Between Job Demands, Job Resources, Burnout, Engagement, and Safety Outcomes
Authors: Jennifer D. Nahrgang, Frederick P. Morgeson, David A. Hofmann
Reviewed by: Mary Alice Crowe-Taylor
These days, the workplace is generally quite demanding! This study used a meta-analysis approach, with 203 independent samples, to assess how detrimental job demands are, and how helpful job resources are, in terms of burnout, engagement and safety outcomes. These researchers wanted to know how well the job demand-resources theory (JD-R) by Bakker & Demerouti (2007) explains these relationships.
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (WINTER 2010)
Article: Emotional exhaustion among employees without social or client contact: the key role of nonstandard work schedules
Authors: J. L. S. Wittmer, J.E. Martin
Reviewed By: Rebecca Eckart
With close to 40% of Americans now working nonstandard schedules (part-time and full-time), defined as shifts outside the normal Monday through Friday day time schedule, there is an ever pressing necessity for managers to understand the needs of these employees. One area of recent exploration around nonstandard schedules is burnout. Emotional exhaustion, a core component of burnout, is typified by a general lack of energy, tiredness, fatigue, and frustration. New findings suggest that working a nonstandard shift (i.e., night time or evening) can further exacerbate the factors leading to emotional exhaustion.
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior (OCT 2010)
>Article: Gender Differences in Burnout: A meta-analysis
Authors: R.K. Purvanova; J.P. Muros
Reviewed by: Mary Alice Crowe-Taylor
Do both men and women experience burnout? Yes. Do men and women experience burnout differently? Yes. In a meta-analysis that includes the results of 183 studies, burnout appears to be an equal opportunity downer, but, sometimes, in different ways, for men and women. On the first burnout component, depersonalization, men are more likely to experience it than women (57% of men and 43% of women report feeling the need to shut-off and withdraw when stressed at work). On the second component of burnout, emotional exhaustion, women are slightly more likely to exhibit it (54% of women and 46% of men studied feel emotionally and physically depleted at work).
Topic: Burnout, Wellness, Work-Life Balance
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior (JAN 2011)
Article: How long do you benefit from vacation? A closer look at the fade-out of vacation effects
Authors: J. Kuhnel and S. Sonnentag
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
We all look forward to vacations and other extended breaks from our hectic work schedules, and fortunately, the case is building for the importance of these hiatuses from work. Research suggests that because normal work demands drain our limited physical and mental resources, employees need sufficient time to recharge their batteries if they are to operate at full capacity on the job.
Topic: Stress, Burnout, Performance, Fairness, Compensation
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior
Article: Emotional exhaustion and job performance: The moderating role of distributive justice and positive affect (AUG 2010)
Author: O. Janssen, C. K. Lam, & X. Huang
Reviewed by: Sarah Teague
Sometimes work is just exhausting; emotionally exhausting to be specific. Emotional exhaustion (EE) refers to feeling overwhelmed or drained at work. Not surprisingly, recent research has linked EE to decrements in performance through the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory. COR theory suggests that EE impairs performance because employees feel that they do not have the adequate resources to meet the current job demands, but is this always the case? When an employee begins to feel depleted, do they automatically attribute it to lack of personal resources? The authors of the current article suggest not.
Topic: Work Environment, Burnout
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (March, 2010)
Article: Contextualizing emotional exhaustion and positive emotional display: The signaling effect of supervisors’ emotional exhaustion and service climate.
Authors: C.K. Lam, X. Huang, & O. Janssen
Reviewed By: Allison Gabriel
Employees are frequently encouraged to engage in pleasant behavior while suppressing negative emotions, despite how they actually feel. But, what happens when employees are too emotionally exhausted to go on?
Publication: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (2010)
Article: Doing good buffers against feeling bad: Prosocial impact compensates for negative task and self-evaluations.
Authors: A.M. Grant, and S. Sonnentag
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
Employee burnout often manifests itself in the form of emotional exhaustion which has been found to lead to decreased job performance, increased withdrawal behaviors (e.g., turnover, absences) and even health problems.
Topic: Burnout, Job Analysis, Job Performance
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior (OCT 2009)
Article: How changes in job demands and resources predict burnout, work engagement, and sickness absenteeism
Authors: W.B. Schaufeli, A.B. Bakker, W. Van Rhenen
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
There are many theories that explain the causes and effects of experiencing work strain and work engagement. Schaufeli and colleagues (2009) investigated one such theory known as the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) theory which focuses on what needs to be done on the job (i.e., job demands) and the social, psychological, physical resources that the job provides for the employees (i.e., job resources).
Burnout refers to a sense of just being ‘over’ one’s job, as in, “I don’t want to do this anymore, I’m burned out.” This is a problem for organizations and for employees, right? Ideally, a sense of engagement (the opposite of burnout) is what everyone wants. So, here’s the point of the current article: Maslach and Leiter found a way to predict who is likely to experience burnout before it
actually happens. That means that by using their method, it could be possible to keep people from getting burned out in the first place.