Monday, August 20, 2012

Working with joy

Chestnut vendors of Ongpin
Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love
but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave
your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take
alms of those who work with joy.

                                                                                                      Kahlil Gibran

Workplace Bullying: Worse than we thought

For all the recent concern over teen bullying, large numbers of adults also deal with peer-to-peer intimidation, especially at work: Approximately one in four U.S. workers say they’ve been bullied on the job, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute.

Now comes word that the targets of workplace torment aren’t the only casualties of the phenomenon: A new study by Canadian researchers, published in the most recent issue of the journal Human Relations, suggests that co-workers who witness bullying are also traumatized by the phenomenon—and are as likely as victims themselves to look for a new job.

To understand the full effects of workplace bullying, researchers from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business went to a hotbed of the practice: the hospital floor. (While more than 60% of on-the-job bullies are men, according to the WBI, previous research has shown that nurses are especially prone to the practice.) Surveying several hundred nurses from several dozen units of a large Canadian health provider, the researchers determined which units and nurses were experiencing bullying as a significant problem.

Meanwhile, they asked all the survey participants, regardless of their bullying experience, to assess their intentions to leave their jobs. (Intentions to quit have been shown to match up strongly with employees actually leaving jobs.)

Read more here.

Open-plan offices sap motivation and create stressful ambiances

The noise of the open office is one of employees’ chief complaints about it, and research shows that the ceaseless hubbub can actually undermine our motivation.

In a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, 40 female clerical workers were subjected to three hours of “low-intensity noise” designed to simulate the sounds heard in a typical open office. A control group experienced three hours of blessed quiet. Afterward, both groups were given puzzles to solve; unbeknownst to them, the puzzles had no solution. The participants who’d been treated to a quiet work setting kept plugging away at the puzzles, while the subjects who’d endured the noisy conditions gave up after fewer attempts.

Look around any open-plan office today (especially one full of younger employees) and you’ll see that many workers deal with this problem by wearing ear buds or headphones. Although it might seem that importing one’s own noise wouldn’t be much of a solution — and although we don’t yet have research evidence on the use of private music in the office — experts say that this approach could be effective on at least one dimension. Part of the reason office noise reduces our motivation is that it’s a factor out of our control, so the act of asserting control over our aural environment may lead us to try harder at our jobs.

Read more here.

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