Category Archives: Management

Employee Burnout Is a Problem with the Company, Not the Person

Source: Eric Garton, Harvard Business Review, April 6, 2017

Employee burnout is a common phenomenon, but it is one that companies tend to treat as a talent management or personal issue rather than a broader organizational challenge. That’s a mistake.

The psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees, which cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the U.S., are just the most obvious impacts. The true cost to business can be far greater, thanks to low productivity across organizations, high turnover, and the loss of the most capable talent. Executives need to own up to their role in creating the workplace stress that leads to burnout—heavy workloads, job insecurity, and frustrating work routines that include too many meetings and far too little time for creative work. Once executives confront the problem at an organizational level, they can use organizational measures to address it…..

Monitoring for Worker Quality

Source: Gautam Bose, Kevin Lang, Journal of Labor Economics, Ahead of Print, March 24, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Much nonmanagerial work is routine, with all workers having similar output most of the time. However, failure to address occasional challenges can be very costly, and consequently easily detected, while challenges handled well pass unnoticed. We analyze job assignment and worker monitoring for such “guardian” jobs. If monitoring costs are positive but small, monitoring is nonmonotonic in the firm’s belief about the probability that a worker is good. The model explains several empirical regularities regarding nonmanagerial internal labor markets: low use of performance pay, seniority pay, rare demotions, wage ceilings within grade, and wage jumps at promotion.

Can a Flexibility/Support Initiative Reduce Turnover Intentions and Exits? Results from the Work, Family, and Health Network

Source: Phyllis Moen, Erin L. Kelly, Shi-Rong Lee, J. Michael Oakes, Wen Fan, Jeremy Bray, David Almeida, Leslie Hammer, David Hurtado, Orfeu Buxton, Social Problems, Advance Access, First published online: 29 December 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We draw on panel data from a randomized field experiment to assess the effects of a flexibility/supervisor support initiative called STAR on turnover intentions and voluntary turnover among professional technical workers in a large firm. An unanticipated exogenous shock—the announcement of an impending merger—occurred in the middle of data collection. Both organizational changes reflect an emerging employment contract characterized by increasing employee temporal flexibility even as employers wield greater flexibility in reorganizing their workforces. We theorized STAR would reduce turnover intentions and actual turnover by making it more attractive to stay with the current employer. We found being in a STAR team (versus a usual practice team) lowered turnover intentions 12 months later and reduced the risk of voluntary turnover over almost three years. We also examined potential mechanisms accounting for the effects of these two organizational changes; STAR effects on reducing turnover intentions are partially mediated by reducing work-to-family conflict, family-to-work conflict, burnout, psychological distress, perceived stress, and increasing job satisfaction. The effect of learning about the merger on increasing turnover intentions is fully mediated by increased job insecurity. STAR also moderates the negative effects of learning about the merger on turnover intentions for different subgroups. Findings provide insights into the effectiveness of an organizational intervention, the dynamics of organizations, and how competing logics of two organizational changes affect employees’ labor market expectations and behavior.

How ancient wisdom can help managers give their employees better feedback

Source: Khatera Sahibzada, The Conversation, December 19, 2016

Giving feedback is unquestionably one of the most challenging tasks for any leader, as it can be painful to both the giver and receiver. It is nonetheless invaluable: Research has shown that employees recognize the importance of feedback – whether positive or negative – to their career development.

Many even welcome it, provided it’s given well. One study of nearly a thousand employees both in the U.S. and abroad found that 92 percent believed that negative feedback is effective at improving performance – “if delivered appropriately.”….

….In another example, a study conducted at New York University found that men and women received different evaluations after demonstrating the same altruistic behavior, such as volunteering to help a co-worker who was in a bind even though the employee would end up being late for another co-worker’s party.

The employees were then given performance evaluations and reward recommendations – that is whether they should get salary increases, promotions, high-profile projects or bonus pay. Women were consistently evaluated more harshly than their male counterparts and were penalized to a greater degree if they were unwilling to help…..

Manager–Employee Gender Congruence and the Bureaucratic Accountability of Public Service Employees Evidence From Schools

Source: Mogens Jin Pedersen, Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen, Public Personnel Management, Vol. 45 no. 4, December 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Much theory suggests that manager–employee gender congruence (that manager and employee share the same gender) may influence employee accountability. This article empirically tests this notion by examining how manager–employee gender congruence among public service employees relates to two key aspects of bureaucratic accountability: (a) organizational goal alignment and (b) compliance with organizational rules and regulations. Using school fixed effects on teacher survey data and administrative school data, we find that male teachers with male principals are less aligned with their school’s goals and less compliant with its rules and regulations than are male teachers with female principals.

Unlocking Employee Potential through Self-Directed Time

Source: Jan Hawn, Steven Gibson, Nickie Lee, Government Finance Review, Vol. 32 no. 4, August 2016

….Can self-directed time work in government? Two cities — Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Bellevue, Washington — sought to answer that question. Rock Hill has a population of 69,967 and 912 full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions on its payroll, and Bellevue has 136,426 residents and 1,319 FTEs. In addition, a third city — Topeka, Kansas (with a population of 127,215 and 1,176.5 FTE) positions — attempted the experiment with one analyst. ….

Excess Management Is Costing the U.S. $3 Trillion Per Year

Source: Gary Hamel, Michele Zanini, Harvard Business Review, September 2016

More people are working in big, bureaucratic organizations than ever before. Yet there’s compelling evidence that bureaucracy creates a significant drag on productivity and organizational resilience and innovation. By our reckoning, the cost of excess bureaucracy in the U.S. economy amounts to more than $3 trillion in lost economic output, or about 17% of GDP.

Here’s the arithmetic. According to our analysis of occupational data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 23.8 million managers, first-line supervisors, and administrators in the American workforce in 2014. (This figure includes both the public and private sectors but does not include individuals in IT-related functions.) That works out to one manager and administrator for every 4.7 employees. Overall, managers and administrators made up 17.6% of the U.S. workforce and received nearly 30% of total compensation.

How many of these 23.8 million overseers do we actually need? We can get an answer by looking at the management practices of a small but growing number of post-bureaucratic pioneers. Their experience suggests it’s possible to run complex businesses with less than half the managerial load typically found in large companies…..

This employee ID badge monitors and listens to you at work — except in the bathroom

Source: Thomas Heath, Washington Post, September 7, 2016

Do you hog office conversations? Or not talk enough? Does your voice squeal?

Do you sit very still at your desk all day? Or do you fidget under stress? Where do you go in the office? How much time do you spend there? To whom do you talk?

An employee badge can now measure all this and more, all with the goal of giving employers better information to evaluate performance. Think of it as biometrics meets the boss.

A Boston company has taken technology developed at MIT and turned it into special badges that hang around your neck on a lanyard. Each has two microphones doing real-time voice analysis, and each comes with sensors that follow where you are in the office, with motion detectors to record how much you move. The beacons tracking your movements are omitted from bathroom locations, to give you some privacy….