Important News about Employees with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Employees who have autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are entering the workforce in record numbers. Yet, employers and coworkers may not know how to relate to people with this diagnosis, especially considering that people with ASD vary greatly on the extent of their mental and social abilities. This uncertainty can negatively affect the careers of people with ASD, especially as people with ASD are stigmatized or stereotyped. New research (Johnson & Joshi, 2016) conducted a two part investigation of employees with ASD in order to discover some of the factors that may lead to these unfortunate and ineffective workplace outcomes.


Harnessing Job Stress to Build Personal Resilience

Resilience means the ability to adapt to adversity. Within the workplace, resilience is beneficial in helping people adapt as organizations go through major changes, such as restructuring, adopting new technology, and mergers/acquisitions. On the day-to-day level, resilience also helps employees manage stress that comes from tight deadlines and changing expectations. Although avoiding stress may seem like a good strategy, resilience is not built by a lack of adversity, but by overcoming adversity. New research (Crane & Searle, 2016) investigates how certain types of workplace stressors make employees more resilient and less likely to experience psychological strain. […]

How Organizational Citizenship Behavior Can Be Good for You

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.


Stress in the Workplace Can Affect Our Social Networks

Stress in the workplace is a common problem. Just think of the many things in a modern workplace that can cause stress: Bad bosses, unpleasant coworkers, threats of downsizing, overflowing inboxes, working long hours, someone taking the last cup of coffee from the coffee maker… I’m getting stressed out just thinking about it. And while there has been a lot of organizational research on the causes and effects of stress, little is known about how stress in the workplace changes the way that we interact with others. New research (Kalish, Luria, Toker, Westman, 2015) provides insight into how stress affects whom we choose to communicate with.


Stereotypes and Employment Discrimination Against Cancer Survivors

Employment discrimination harmfully affects many types of people, and new research indicates that cancer survivors may be among the victims. This is especially troubling, because after a cancer diagnosis, people must overcome many challenging obstacles to enter and remain in remission. Yet, these same individuals may also have a more difficult time obtaining employment. A recent study (Martinez, White, Shapiro, & Hebl, 2016) examined the stereotypes associated with cancer survivors and the workplace-related implications of these stereotypes for both individuals and organizations.


Can Leadership or Climate Influence Underreporting of Workplace Accidents?

Workplace accidents threaten the lives or well-being of employees, and if that’s not enough of a reason to prevent them, they are also very costly to organizations. Missed work time, potential lawsuits, and increases in health care costs are all among many reasons why accidents affect an organization’s bottom line. But if organizations want to reduce the likelihood of accidents, they need to be aware of their occurrences. Labor statistics vary, but all estimate that the majority of workplace accidents go unreported. New research (Probst, 2015) uncovers two factors that influence the degree to which accidents go unreported.


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.


Can Work Breaks Increase Employee Productivity?

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.


What Science Tells Us About Telecommuting

With the increasing accessibility of technology and mobile connectivity, employees are no longer confined to their offices, and because of this, telecommuting is on the rise. Telecommuting—a term coined in the 1970s—has gained popularity over the decades and researchers and the scientific community have followed suit. A new article by Allen, Golden, and Shockley (2015) reviews the extant literature on telecommuting and clarifies what research supports regarding telecommuting. The authors define telecommuting as the practice of working away from a central location (usually at home) and relying on technology to interact and stay connected.


Psychology of Unemployment

The Psychology of Unemployment: Can Personality Change?


What is behind the psychology of unemployment? As evidenced by personality psychology literature, individuals vary in their patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. It is theorized that personality develops during the first 30 years of life, and then stabilizes during later adulthood. However, there is debate among personality psychologists on whether certain life events—like unemployment—can alter one’s personality later in life.



Working From Home: Telework Can Keep Employees Happy

Moving from the barriers of the cubicle to working from home, also called telework, is a technology-based advancement that is relatively new to the world of work. It is estimated that one in four Americans telework, which basically refers to working from home or another convenient location based on an employee’s residence. The increasing popularity of teleworking within the past three decades has lead to a plethora of research on the topic. This research reveals mixed findings on the employee-related outcomes of teleworking.


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.


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Leveraging Human Capital: Are Your Employees Getting Enough Sleep?

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-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.


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Work-Family Conflict Changes How You Do Your Job

Work-family conflict occurs when we cannot meet the demands of work and the demands of family at the same time, and instead must choose one over the other. In this study, researchers (Dahm, Glomb, Manchester, & Leroy, 2015) specifically considered work-to-family conflict, which occurs when people attempt to meet the demands of their job and sacrifice the demands of their family. While past research has shown that this may lead to harmful outcomes, this study gives us greater insight into why this happens. Interestingly, work-to-family conflict can make employees change the way they do their jobs.


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Ethics in the Workplace: Anxious Employees May Cause Trouble

The factors that affect ethics in the workplace are not as simple as they may seem. For example, imagine that you arrive at work a few minutes late because a large traffic accident caused commuting delays. You finally get settled at your desk and are ready to take on the day, when you get an email saying that your boss wants to see you immediately. The email is vague and does not state why your boss wants to see you. Perhaps she knows you arrived to work late. Maybe she has concerns about the report you turned in yesterday. Suddenly, you feel anxious, nervous, and ill at ease.


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Fathers in the Workplace: Can Men Really Do it All?

With more actively involved fathers in the workplace, the role of the working man is changing. The ideal worker, or an employee that is perpetually available and committed to work with minimal responsibilities outside of the job, clashes with men’s ability to be involved fathers, or men that are involved with and accessible to their children.

In order to investigate the changing expectations of fatherhood in the workplace and determine how involved fathering impacts work-related outcomes, the researchers (Ladge et al., 2015) conducted two studies. The first study involved interviews with 31 new fathers about their career and fatherhood, and the second study administered a survey to 970 fathers who worked in four different Fortune 500 organizations.


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Caregivers in the Workplace: How to Improve Their Well-Being

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.


Employee Sleepiness

Employee Sleepiness is Harmful for the Workplace

Sleepiness is what happens when people feel a strong biological urge to sleep. Unlike fatigue, which usually occurs when becoming exhausted by hard work, sleepiness has several different causes. These causes include poor sleep quantity (not getting enough sleep), poor sleep quality (waking up often while trying to sleep or not achieving a deep level of sleep), a disruption to the circadian rhythm (a person’s natural sleep cycle), or through drugs or disorders that affect the central nervous system. A new review by Mullins, Cortina, Drake, and Dalal (2014) shows why organizations should care about employee sleepiness.


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Workplace Bullying: Corrupt and Harmful to Organizations

In recent years, there has been a noticeable rise in bullying, and the workplace is no exception. In fact, it has become such a pervasive issue, with such profound effects, that it is considered an extreme threat to the health and wellness of all businesses. Many argue that bullying is not only the newest form of discrimination in the workplace, but that it should also be recognized as a form of corruption.


How to Be Fair to Employees without Feeling Drained

How to Be Fair to Employees without Feeling Drained

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.



Death Anxiety is Related to Burnout and Other Organizational Problems

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.


The Connection Between Exhaustion & Psychological Detachment From Work

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.


The Pitfalls of Inconsistent Leader Behavior

Bad boss alert! Let’s say your supervisor was incensed with the results of yesterday’s baseball or football game. As a result, today he’s been condescending, hypercritical, and an all-around sourpuss. Can he make up for it by being extra nice and helpful to you tomorrow?


Feedback and Organizations: The Importance of a Feedback-Friendly Culture

Feedback has long been considered a focal point for employee development and advancement within organizations. But why is it so important, and how can creating a feedback-friendly culture benefit the organization as well as the individual?


Positive Affect: A Balanced Approach to Workplace Implementation

Good leads to more good, right? It is generally thought that creating a positive environment in the workplace leads to increased productivity for everyone. Surprisingly though, there comes a point when positivity in the workplace can actually harm your work environment and result in unfavorable outcomes.


Be in Charge of Your Workplace Well-being

As working professionals, the better part of our days are spent at the office. Naturally then, workplace well-being plays an important role in the overall well-being of a working professional. So what does workplace well-being really mean, and what are the factors that influence it?


Mindfulness in the Workplace

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.


Building a Positive Work Environment: Acts of Kindness at Work

According to researchers Sonnentag & Grant, a positive mood that comes from helping someone is so powerful that it can last till bedtime. Firstly, when you believe that you have helped someone at work you feel good. Then, over the day, you think about it, reflecting on the positive features of the event. This reflection spills over into the rest of your day, leaving you feeling good all day long. Due to our tendency to be more engaged with positive emotions and to detach from negative ones, we improve the positive parts of these memories in our minds, giving them greater power to make us happy.


Work Life Balance: Assessing Non-Family Conflict

Although the potential conflict that employees may feel between their work and non-work lives has been a topic of much research in recent years, this conflict has typically been defined rather narrowly. Specifically, most research in this area looks at the conflict an employee feels between their work life and their family life; however, not all employees have family obligations in the traditional sense (i.e., a spouse, children, etc.). Nevertheless, these “family-less” employees may still experience conflict between their work life and other domains of their non-work life. Until recently, measures designed to assess this type of non-family conflict have been scarce. To address this Jessica Keeney and her colleagues have created a measure designed to would assess non-family conflict.


Relax! You just had vacation! (IO Psychology)

Topic: Stress, Wellness
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JUL 2012)
Article: Academics’ Experiences of a Respite From Work: Effects of Self-Critical Perfectionism and Perseverative Cognition on Postrespite Well-Being
Authors: Paul E. Flaxman, Julie Menard, Frank W. Bond, and Gail Kinman
Reviewed By: Isaac Sabat

For once, researchers and employees agree—it is absolutely necessary to take a vacation. If employees are not given breaks from work, they experience physical and mental fatigue, which puts them at risk for a variety of other more serious health problems. Vacations offer many important benefits to employees, such as the ability to recharge their batteries and increase their happiness. These effects have also been found to carry over into the subsequent work-weeks following vacations.

However, it has recently been found that not everybody is able to reap these same lingering benefits that vacations have to offer!


Whistle While You Work: The Importance of Work Enjoyment for Managers (Human Resource Management)

Topic: Motivation, Performance, Wellness
Publication: Journal of Management (SEP 2012)
Article: Driven to Work and Enjoyment of Work: Effects on Managers’ Outcomes
Authors: Laura Graves, Marian Ruderman, Patricia Ohlott, & Todd Weber
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

Work motivation, a topic that is relevant to almost all employees in almost every organization, is a common research area in IO psychology. Within the vast motivation literature, two types of motivation that have emerged in recent years are the driven to work and enjoyment of work motives. The driven to work motive is based on the feeling that a person should work (they feel compelled to), while the enjoyment of work motive emphasizes intrinsic motivation and personal enjoyment of the work itself. Recently, Graves and colleagues conducted a study to identify the role that these two types of motivation might have on managers’ performance, career satisfaction, and psychological strain.


Thinking About Downsizing? Read This First!

Topic: Wellness, Work Environment
Publication: Human Resource Management (JAN 2011)
Article: The effects of downsizing on labor productivity, the value of showing consideration for employees’ morale and welfare in high-performance work systems
Authors: R.D. Iverson, C.D. Zatzick
Reviewed By: Rebecca Eckart

As economic conditions weaken, downsizing has become an increased reality for many organizations. Typically aimed at decreasing operational costs, often downsizing has the unintended consequence of also lowering employee productivity and morale.


Go Ahead, Take That Vacation – It’s Good For You…and Your Company!

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. 


When Mental Detachment from Work is a Must

Topic: Stress, Wellness, Work-Life Balance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (AUG 2010)
Article: Staying well and engaged when demands are high: The role of psychological detachment
Authors: S. Sonnentag, C. Binnewies, and E.J. Mojza
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

When we’re faced with high job demands at work, stress and emotional burnout often lurk right around the corner.  Regardless of the potentially harmful effects of high job demands, they’re a reality for many of us.  But before we  throw up our  hands in surrender when work piles up,  there are buffers against the dreaded consequences of excessive job demands.  One such buffer is known as psychological detachment, which is a fancy term for “leaving work at work” and devoting mental resources to non-work-related things while not on the clock. 


Heavy Workloads: Much More Than Just a Nuisance

Topic: Stress, Wellness, Work Environment
Publication: Personnel Psychology (Summer 2010)
Article: Psychological and physiological reactions to high workloads: Implications for well-being
Authors: R. Ilies, N. Dimotakis, and I.E. De Pater
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

In a rather unique study by Ilies, Dimotakis and De Pater (2010), the authors found that heavy workloads can have negative psychological (distress) and physiological (blood pressure) effects that fluctuate depending on an employee’s daily workload.  The authors also investigated how daily changes in workload affect employees’ daily well-being when they get home from work.


What Makes for a Successful Employee and Why?

Topic: Job Performance, Personality
Publication: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (MAR 2010)
ArticleHuman capital and objective indicators of career success: The mediating effects of cognitive ability and conscientiousness
Authors: T.W.H. Ng and D.C. Feldman
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Career success is important for determining an employee’s well-being, life satisfaction, and can also contribute to organizational success.  While it is well known that an employee’s level of education and work experience influences his/her career success, Ng and Feldman suggest that why this relationship exists is unclear.


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.


The Unemployment Blues may be More Serious than You Think!

Topic: UnemploymentWellness
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior
Article: Unemployment impairs mental health: Meta-analyses.
Author: K.I. Paul, K. Moser
Featured by: Benjamin Granger

Does unemployment CAUSE poor mental health? After all, isn’t it possible that poor mental health can cause unemployment? Seriously, what employer wants to hire a distressed, anxious, depressed employee with low self-esteem?

In an attempt to arrive at a firm conclusion about whether unemployment actually causes changes in mental health, Paul and Moser (2009) report on the results of two meta-analyses that included 237 cross-sectional studies as well as 87 longitudinal studies. In addition to their primary goal of uncovering the causal link between unemployment and mental health, the researchers also investigated a number of factors that might affect unemployment’s role in predicting mental health.


The Researcher’s Advantage to Chilled-Out Survey Participants

Topic: StressWellness
Publication: Journal of Organizational and Occupational Psychology
Article: Too stressed out to participate Examining the relation between stressors and survey response behavior.
Blogger: LitDigger

If you’re in the kind of work I’m in, your projects thrive off of survey response rates. Yes, that is only one element to a successful organizational study, BUT CLEARLY response rates are a big deal to research! You probably have read some articles on how to boost your survey response rate (e.g., is handing out free candy or instilling guilt ACTUALLY effective to your cause?), but a recent article by Barr, Spitzmüller, and Stuebing (2008) takes a new perspective.


Managing Grief in the Workplace

Topic: Emotional Intelligence, Wellness
Publication: Academy of Management
Article:  Grief and the workplace.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

To shed light on the issue of grief in the workplace, Mary Ann Hazen (2008) provided several suggestions for how managers and organizations can effectively respond to grieving employees.

Several suggestions provided by Hazen (2008) are presented below.


Doing what Simon Says Regarding Safety

Topic: Stress, Wellness, Work Environments
Publication: Journal of Business Ethics
Article: Ethical climates and workplace safety behaviors: an empirical investigation.
Blogger: LitDigger

How do you know that you won’t trip on the telephone cord your coworker has stretched across the entryway of your cubicle?  You don’t (until the inevitable happens).  How do you know whether or not workplace safety behaviors are actually practiced in your organization?  A study by Parboteeah and Kapp (2008) says that the company’s ethical climate may provide some clues.


In the name of the cubicle, the computer, and the conference call, Amen.

Topic: Motivation, Organizational Performance, Work Environment
Publication: Journal of Organizational Change Management
Article: Workplace Spirituality and Organizational Commitment: An Empirical Study.
Blogger: LitDigger

Much academic literature investigating workplace performance overlooks the element of employee spirituality, but Rego and Cunha (2008) recently dared to venture into this unfamiliar territory. They found that workplace spirituality is related to employees’ organizational commitment.


Oh give me a BREAK!

Topic: Emotional IntelligenceJob PerformanceWellness
Publication: Academy of Management Journal
Article: Making the break count: An episodic examination of recovery activities, emotional
experiences, and positive affect displays
Blogger: LitDigger

Do your customer service employees do work-like activities during their breaks or maybe
even not take their breaks at all? If you care about their ability to ‘put on the happy face’ for customers, then research by Trougakos, Beal, Green & Weiss (2008) says that breaks are important.


Coffee Break, Anyone?

Topic: Wellness
Publication: Monitor on Psychology
Article: Caffeine’s wake-up call.
Blogger: Larry Martinez

We all have that one person in the office who just can’t function properly until they’ve had their cup of coffee in the morning (maybe it’s you).  And who doesn’t get a boost out of a candy bar and soda around mid-afternoon?  A short article in the APA Monitor synthesized some of the most relevant research on America’s favorite and most widely accepted drug: caffeine.