Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientific study finds meetings at work decrease employee well-being, but not for everyone

27.02.2006


How are things going at work? While there has plenty written on a wide variety of factors affecting employee well-being – on everything from management style and organizational structure to the effects of ergonomic furniture and natural lighting – the "elephant in the room" in our workplaces is something that almost everyone complains about but no one has studied: how much time we spend in meetings.

In the average workplace, there are lots of meetings. Reports indicate that the average number of meetings at work more than doubled in the second half of the 20th Century and time spent in meetings keeps growing. While the importance of this change has been largely unnoticed, a new study on the effects of meetings on worker well-being reveals some surprising dynamics behind modern meeting mania, with broad implications for the effects on morale and productivity.

The report, written by a team of researchers led by industrial and organizational psychologist Steven G. Rogelberg from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, appears in the March issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology. It describes the first international scientific study ever performed on the effects of meeting time on employee well-being, based on the responses of 980 employees to two work surveys.



One of the report’s findings was that more people actually view meetings as a positive part of the workday than they will admit publicly.

"When speaking publicly, people generally claim that they hate meetings," said Rogelberg, "but in the surveys you see a different story – some people’s private sentiments are much more positive.

"It’s an interesting finding because it really helps to explain why we have all these meetings. And, though they are typically publicly negative, overwhelmingly people say that they want the day to have at least one meeting. They have to feel like they are accomplishing something positive in their meetings to produce this response," he said.

The two surveys tested the impact of meetings on employees in two different contexts – at the end of a specific day and in general, by examining the number of meetings employees had in a typical week.

The study finds that for some individuals meetings function as interruptions and for others they are welcome events. The effects of meetings on worker well-being is "moderated" by three different factors – by whether jobs specifically require group work, by whether the meetings were efficiently run, and, perhaps critically, by where the worker falls on the personality scale of her/his "accomplishment striving."

"People differ on this accomplishment striving personality scale," Rogelberg explained. "In general, you can think of people who are high in accomplishment striving are those individuals who are very task-focused, who are very goal-focused, who have goals and objectives for the day that they want to get accomplished. People who have low accomplishment striving are not slackers, though -- they are just individuals with a much more flexible orientation to work and like to allow the agenda for the day to emerge much more naturally."

The study finds that people who are high in accomplishment striving are predictably and negatively impacted by meetings, particularly when they are frequent. Numerous short meetings have a greater impact on their well-being than a few long meetings taking the same amount of time.

However, survey participants who scored low in accomplishment striving were positively impacted by meetings. They appeared to be welcome events rather than interruptions. More time in meetings was associated with a greater sense of well-being.

"People who are high in accomplishment striving look at meetings more from the perspective of seeing them as barriers to getting real work done," Rogelberg said. "But the others may view meetings as a way to structure their day or a way to network and socialize. As a result, these people see meetings as a good thing."

Rogelberg notes that there are some curious social paradigms operating that disguise the dynamic.

"It is socially unacceptable to talk about liking meetings, unless someone else starts talking about it," he said, explaining why the low accomplishment striving folks do not go public with their preference for meeting. "And it is also interesting that the people who are high on accomplishment striving are not complaining more the others. The toll that meetings take seems to be much more subtle. If you ask these individuals if they are more dissatisfied with the meetings, they don’t report anything different from those who enjoy meetings," he said.

Steven Rogelberg is Associate Professor of Psychology at UNC Charlotte, where he is director of the Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Organizational Science graduate programs as well as the Organizational Science Consulting and Research Unit. He also affiliated with UNC Charlotte’s Department of Management .

James Hathaway | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uncc.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Polymers Based on Boron?

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered

18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>