How to Reduce Emotional Exhaustion at Work

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.


Narcissistic Leaders Can Use Humility to Succeed

Are narcissistic leaders good for business? Are they good for employees? It’s a difficult question to answer, especially considering that research has found mixed results. Narcissistic people may be bold risk-takers with supreme confidence and unshakeable vision. This sounds like the kind of person we’d want leading, right? On the other hand, they have personal grandiosity, a feeling of superiority, and the constant need for admiration. Well, maybe we don’t want this person in charge. Fortunately, new research (Owens, Wallace, & Waldman, 2015) helps us resolve this dilemma. They found that narcissism can be good for leadership, but only when it’s tempered with a healthy dose of humility.


Distracting Technology in the Workplace

How to Stop Distracting Technology in the Workplace

One major modern-day problem facing organizations is distracting technology in the workplace. With technology blurring the line between work and non-work activities, employees can surf the internet, shop online, message with friends, and complete personal banking throughout the workday. Not only does access to technology (such as email, video conferencing, texting, etc.) diminish productivity in the workplace, but distracted employees can also lead to security-threatening or life-threatening consequences. A study by Stanko & Beckman (2015) examines how an organization, specifically the Navy, manages distracted employees and refocuses employee attention back to work.



Work-Life Balance and Smartphones: Disaster in the Making?

Work-life balance is under attack: gone are the days where one could simply leave work at the office and go home. When home and work were physically located in separate places, the psychological boundaries, or “mental fences”, that individuals created to designate different domains in life were more rigid and clearly defined. However, with the advent of information communication technology (ICT), workers can now be connected to work from almost anywhere.


How to Make Meetings Productive

How to Make Meetings Productive: The Role of Employee Participation

We wouldn’t think that the purpose of meetings is to encourage employee participation. After all, meetings are held for a variety of specific work-related reasons. But the results of these meetings can vary incredibly. Productive meetings can include the successful collaboration of ideas, while unproductive meetings can result in decreased morale in employees. How can we do better? New research (Yoerger, Crowe, & Allen, 2015) investigated the relationship between participation in decision-making, or PDM, and employee engagement in the context of meetings.


gamification in the workplace

What is Gamification and How Can It Improve Organizational Effectiveness?

Gamification refers to the use of game elements such as points, badges, and leaderboards in non-gaming contexts, for example the workplace or educational settings. Many organizations are turning to gamification to help improve employee motivation and performance. Previous studies have shown that gamification can be effective in motivating employees and increasing engagement–meaning the extent to which employees feel connected too and enthusiastic about their work. This particular study (Lieberoth, 2014) investigated how merely making a work activity seem like a game impacts employee engagement (rather than designing a complex gamification system).


Human Resource Practices Influence How Employees Spend their Time at Work

Human resource practices are important, and so is the way in which employees choose to spend their time at work. Both undoubtedly impact organizational productivity and effectiveness. New research (Boon, Belschak, Den Hartog, & Pijnenburg, 2014) explores the ways that an organization’s human resource management (HRM) practices influence the time employees spend on certain tasks, as well as the effects on absenteeism.


Sense of Calling Can Affect Career Decisions

How a Sense of Calling Can Affect Career Decisions

What helps determine whether people pursue their sense of “calling”? The advice I always got was, “Work hard, get a respectable job in a stable industry and then pursue your passion on the side.” This shaped my extrinsic motivation, or the type of motivation that comes from outside a person, when pursuing a career. Others take to heart advice from notable public figures like the late Steve Jobs who said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” This kind of advice fosters intrinsic motivation, or the type that comes from within a person, when pursuing a career. The pursuit of a career that meets at the intersection of these two approaches would be ideal, but often economic realities deter many. Recently, two researchers sought to understand what influences career decisions when these approaches clash.


Flow at Work: Recovery Affects Whether Employees will “Be in the Zone”

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.


Social Media at Work: Implications for Productivity

A pair of researchers recently set out to examine how certain people use social media at work, and how that impacted their performance.

Their survey of individuals across various industries and jobs revealed various ways that people believe social media at work helps and harms their performance. The researchers then conducted a series of studies in developing a questionnaire for measuring social media behaviors, only one of which will be the focus for this review.


How Corporate Social Performance Attracts Job Seekers

In recent years the topic of Corporate Social Performance (CSP) has become increasingly of interest to major corporations.

It’s becoming more important for organizations to have a social presence, display their dedication to the community and adopt positive practices that go beyond the company’s bottom line. Some may wonder just how important corporate social performance actually is to a company’s stakeholders.


Are You Managing and Keeping Your Star Performers?

Every organization wants to retain its best people, because star performers are essential to success. But this maxim has become even more prevalent in today’s business world.

The authors claim that the 20th century was about reforming the business world into factories that valued conformity and having everyone do their tasks in the same way. But the current business climate has people working to solve more problems in more unique ways. The projects that we work on involve quick turn-arounds and efficiency.

In short, the business world has moved away from the conformity of the 20th century and into the creativity of the 21st century. This change has made star performers even more valuable, according to the authors of the study.


Leadership Self-Efficacy: The Key to Leaders’ Reactions to Challenging Experiences

Many researchers believe that leadership is a skill learned through experience—specifically, through overcoming challenging experiences.

Studies show that challenging leaders is beneficial, because it causes them to demonstrate more engagement, skill, motivation, and transformational leadership behaviors.

However, the fact is that leaders occasionally respond negatively to challenges. But this outcome is rarely studied within the usual theories of leader development.


Why Try to “Fit” In at Work? The Importance of Work Engagement and Person-Job Fit

Today’s workplace can be precarious, with the increasing prevalence of organizational restructuring and downsizing leading to tougher competition for jobs. As a result, ensuring each employees’ person-job fit has become crucial to organizations as they strive to hire and retain top performing employees and avoid turnover.

But this begs the question, how can organizations and their employees improve person-job fit? The answer lies not solely in the hands of organizations, but also in the hands of the employees themselves.


Are You Promoting Work Engagement, or Workaholism?

All business organizations want their employees to be highly involved in their work (which is also known as Work Engagement), but not obsessive-compulsive about it (a.k.a. Workaholism).

Unchecked workaholism can eventually lead employees to burnout, inclinations to leave the company, and other behaviors that put good organizational citizenship at risk.

But how can organization leaders spot the difference between healthy and unhealthy levels of work engagement, and encourage employees towards the former? In “The Differences Between Work Engagement and Workaholism, and Organizational Outcomes: An Integrative Model,” author Youngkeun Choi offers some guidance.


It’s Not All About the Money? The Role of Career Values in the Engagement of Recent College Graduates

As many college seniors wrap up their final year of college and prepare to enter the “real world”, many of them panic at the frequently asked question, “what are your plans for after graduation?” This question, which subsequently implies “do you have a job lined up after graduation?” presents an almost existential challenge. After all, who are we without school or work?


Everybody Wins: The Power of Engagement in Promoting Work-Family Facilitation (IO Psychology)

Topic: Work-Life Balance, Engagement
Publication: Human Relations (SEP 2012)
Article: Work Engagement and Work-Family Facilitation: Making Homes Happier Through Positive Affective Spillover
Authors: Satoris Culbertson, Maura Mills, & Clive Fullager
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

For many years, researchers in IO psychology have focused on the negative outcomes, such as stress and health problems, that can be associated with employees balancing work and family demands. However, within work-family research, one area that has become more popular over the past several years is work-family facilitation, which examines how work and family demands, rather than competing with one another, can actually be beneficial and make an individual more effective in both the work and family domains.


Let Me Hear from You: Encouraging Employee Voice Behavior (IO Psychology)

Topic: Engagement, Fairness
Publication: Personnel Psychology (SUMMER 2012)
Article: Applying Uncertainty Management Theory to Employee Voice Behavior: An Integrative Investigation
Authors: Riki Takeuchi, Zhijun Chen, & Siu Yin Cheung
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

In recent years, IO psychology has taken note of the desire that many organizations have for their employees to make creative suggestions to improve the organization. The importance of these contributions (collectively known as employee voice behavior) appears to be increasing, particularly as organizations try to “innovate from within,” as opposed to relying as much on external sources for their innovative ideas. However, this desire for employee voice comes with a challenge: employees may be reluctant to share ideas, particularly if they challenge the status quo in the organization or their workgroup. Therefore, if employees are going to use their “voice,” it is important that employees feel they can trust their bosses and the management of the organization.


Predicting Burnout: Playing Well With Others Can Go a Long Way!

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.


If you’re trying to cut costs, don’t cut the engagement survey

Topic: Engagement, Job Satisfaction, Surveys
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (JUN 2011)
Article: Measuring employee engagement during a financial downturn: Business imperative or nuisance?
Authors: Van Rooy, D. L., Whitman, D. S., Hart, D., & Caleo, S.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

In these difficult economic times, organizations have been forced to cut costs. One way in which organizations are saving money is by reducing the use of employee surveys, but Van Rooy et al. (2011) contend that these surveys are valuable and should not be cut. The authors argue that measuring engagement is important because engagement has been shown to be related to many important business outcomes, such as turnover, efficiency, and performance. By researching engagement, an organization can better protect its current talent and prepare itself to attract talent that may leave other organizations.


Using performance management practices to drive employee engagement

Topic: Engagement, Job Performance, Job Attitudes
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (JUN 2011)
Article: Performance management at the wheel: Driving employee engagement in organizations
Authors: Mone, E., Eisinger, C., Guggenheim, K., Price, B., Stine, C.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

You’ve probably heard quite a bit about employee engagement lately, and you know that you want engaged employees. However, what can you do to increase levels of employee engagement? This article discusses ways in which performance management practices can be used to drive employee engagement and provides suggestions for future research.


The Dissolution of Alliances: It’s Business, But It’s Also Social

Topic:Conflict, Trust
Publication: Academy of Management Journal
Article: Built to last but falling apart: Cohesion, friction, and withdrawl from interfirm alliances
Authors: H. R. Greve, J. A. C. Baum, H. Mitsuhashi, & T. J. Rowley
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

Forming alliances between organizations is all well and good when the groups have a cohesive vision and sunny prospects, but sometimes the more interesting question is: how do alliances dissolve and why? In a study of transoceanic shipping companies, researchers assess these questions. Transoceanic shipping is an interesting situation in itself because firms often team up with others to share shipping routes. Multiple firms operate ships on the same route and single ships may carry cargo from multiple firms. Hence, there’s a lot of overlap and interdependence among allied firms.