Dangerous Jobs: A Reason to Play Hooky? (IO Psychology)
Topic: Leadership, Culture, Health & Safety
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JUL 2012)
Article: Aversive workplace conditions and absenteeism: Taking referent group norms
and supervisor support into account.
Authors: M. Biron, P. Bamberger
Reviewed By: Ben Sher
Why do people play hooky from work? The stress-free paradise of a day at the beach, great seats for a baseball game on a perfect summer afternoon, that irresistible allure of Olympic equestrian as it airs live on TV… these are all possible reasons. But what
about workplace dangers? Is it possible that people avoid work because they are afraid of getting injured while doing dangerous jobs? Actually, research has found mixed results. Sometimes workplace danger means more absenteeism and sometimes it means less absenteeism. What explains this? Recent research by Biron and Bamberger (2012) has provided an interesting answer to this question.
The authors first discuss the mixed results of past research. When workplace danger
was associated with increased absenteeism, researchers explained that employees
avoid work to avoid injury or to recuperate from past injuries. That certainly makes
sense. When workplace danger was associated with less absenteeism, researchers
explained that these dangerous jobs provide extra pay to offset potential danger, or
attract and retain the kind of employees who are unfazed by danger. That makes sense
So what determines whether danger will lead to more or less absenteeism? The
authors conducted a study of transit workers in a major US city, and found that two
factors influence this relationship. The first factor is the perception of “permissive
peer absence norms”. This means the general attitude that an employee’s closest
co-workers share regarding the acceptability of absence. When co-workers think
occasionally missing work is acceptable, dangerous work conditions are associated with more absenteeism.
The second factor is the perception of supervisor support. When employees feel that
their supervisors support their role at work, dangerous work conditions are associated
with less absenteeism. Why would this happen? The authors say that employees who
feel supported might experience greater organizational commitment, and be reluctant to do anything which could harm the organization. Additionally, they might have greater access to training that could make the workplace safer.
Finally, the two factors of peer absence norms and supervisor support work
together. When supervisors were more supportive of employees, peer acceptance
of absenteeism was not as likely to cause actual absenteeism. This follows social
psychology research that says cultural influence from peers is subject to competing
influences, such as influence from organizational leaders.
This study highlights the importance of positive organizational culture and proper
supervisor support. If these factors help influence whether people in physically
dangerous jobs show up for work, certainly they can help positively influence employees doing jobs with less apparent danger.
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
When It Comes to Employee Health, More than an ‘Apple a Day’ is Needed (IO Psychology)
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.
Recent research has linked employee perceptions of organizational unfairness to employee health. There are four ways in which perceptions of unfairness are thought to be experienced. These are through feelings of distributive injustice (i.e., fairness of outcomes of decisions), procedural injustice (i.e., fairness of the process of the decisions), interactional injustice (i.e., fairness of the exchanges between individuals in the organization), and psychological contract breach (i.e., failure of the organization to live up to the expectations of the employee).
In general, perceived organizational unfairness was found to be associated with poor employee health indicators such as mental health conditions, physical health conditions, and number of absences. Moreover, unfairness was most strongly related to more proximal health indicators such as employee feelings of burnout, negative mood, and job related stress.
Additionally, the four types of unfairness were related to different health related indicators. For instance, procedural justice was more strongly related to physical health problem, while distributive justice was more predictive of mental health issues. Psychological contract breach was most strongly associated with employee perceptions of burnout. Of the four, interactional justice was the least predictive of the health indicators.
What can be done to promote employee health and well-being in the workplace?Well, one good thing is that perceptions of fairness are malleable aspects of the workplace, meaning that organizations have a great deal of control managing fairness (and unfairness) perceptions. To increase feeling of distributive justice, organizations should strive to make policies with outcomes that are the same for all employees regardless of gender, race, and tenure. While, increasing perceptions of procedural justice can be accomplished by insuring that decision-making processes treat all employees equally. Finally, to increase perceptions of a sturdy psychological contract, openly and clearly communicate to employees, provide them with information, direction, and support in times of change, and treat employees with respect.
Stop Burnout, Increase Engagement & Improve Safety…by Providing Supportive Environment?
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.
According to this analysis, pretty well actually! The model that best fit the data supported the JD-R’s theoretical links between job demands-health impairment-burnout-negative safety outcomes. Burnout was harmful to safe work practices! It also supported the theory’s links between job resources-motivation-engagement-positive safety outcomes. Engaged employees are motivated to work safely.
Job demands included variables like job complexity, role overload, cognitively challenging work, physical demands, and risks and hazards. Draining to employees both physically and psychologically, these result in burnout, health impairments, and a greater number of unsafe outcomes, as this study showed. Only the variable “physical demands” was not related to burnout or engagement.
Your Lunchbox is Your Friend
Topic: Health & Safety
Publication: Health Education & Behavior (APR 2009)
Article: Factors Influencing Lunchtime Food Choices Among Working Americans
Author: H.M. Blanck, A.L. Yaroch, A.A. Atienza, S.L. Yi, J. Zhang, L.C. Masse
Reviewed by: Lit Digger
Do you embrace your brown bag from home, or do you fork over the dough on one too many occasions? Blanck, et al. (2009) conducted an interesting study on the habits of working Americans at lunchtime. Join me for a quick bite out of their most delicious findings.
· Lunch Brought or Lunch Bought? About 33% of survey respondents brought their lunch from home on a regular basis. A whopping 54% admitted to buying their lunch two or more times per week.
· Open wallets, closed purses. Men were more likely than women to buy lunch two or more times per week.
· The brown bag is for school children and their grandparents, not for young professionals. When compared to those ages 55 or older, respondents ages 18-34 were more likely to buy lunch two or more times per week.
· Laziness pays in pounds. Survey respondents who were overweight (as measured by BMI) were 37% more likely than others to buy their lunches two or more times per week.
· Convenience is king. When asked what factors most influenced their lunchtime decision-making:
o 34.3% said they valued convenience
o 27.8% said they valued taste
o 20.8% said they valued cost
o 17.1% said they valued health
Perhaps we can learn a little bit about our personal tendencies by looking at the tendencies of those around us. It appears as though the desire for lunch meal convenience can not only result in more money spent, but also in more pounds gained in the long run. I mean, who in their right mind would pay more money for a higher BMI?
Cling to those brown bags, my fellow working Americans, and the payoff will be much sweeter later.
Keeping it Safe for Daylight Saving Time
Topic: Health & Safety
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (SEP 2009)
Article: Changing to Daylight Saving Time cuts into sleep and increases workplace injuries
Authors: C.M. Barnes & D.T. Wagner
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
Although Daylight Saving Time was originally proposed to align the human sleep/wake cycle with the Earth’s rotation cycle (and to give us more day light to BBQ on those warm summer afternoons!), Barnes and Wagner wondered if these time changes have detrimental effects on human sleep patterns and workplace injuries. Using archival data, Barnes and Wagner discovered that the change from standard to
Daylight Saving Time leads employees to get an average of 40 minutes less sleep on the night of the switch. They also found that the frequency and severity of workplace injuries increases on the Monday immediately following the switch to Daylight Saving Time. These trends provide evidence that reduced sleep is a likely explanation for the increased frequency and severity of workplace injuries following the time change in the spring. On the other hand, no substantial effects on sleep and injury frequency or severity were found for the change back to standard time in the fall.
Although these findings are disconcerting, Daylight Saving Time is predictable and can be planned for long in advance. For example, this knowledge may encourage employees to “hit the sack” an hour early to prepare for the change in schedule. Organizations and managers can avoid scheduling particularly dangerous tasks on the Monday after the spring Daylight Saving Time switch (schedule them later in the week). Mangers may even schedule additional safety monitors on this day to help prevent injuries. By identifying this particularly dangerous work-day, organizations can protect their employees from injuries and themselves from lawsuits and other injury-related expenses.