Bonnie Hayden Cheng
Prof. Bonnie Hayden CHENG
Management and Strategy
Associate Professor
MBA Programme Director

3910 2186

KK 1126

You’ve got mail! How work e-mail activity helps anxious workers enhance performance outcomes

Despite workplace anxiety being a common experience of daily work life that is increasingly reliant on technology, we lack knowledge of technology-based job demands that prompt its occurrence. Drawing on theorization on workplace anxiety and integrating literature on information and communication technologies, we consider telepressure and normative response pressure as internal and external between-person sources of daily workplace anxiety. We further present a model of how employees adaptively (vs. maladaptively) respond to workplace anxiety on days they experience workplace anxiety, where anxiety prompts: (a) work e-mail activity, a self-regulatory behavior facilitating performance outcomes; and (b) non-work e-mail activity, a behavior that disengages employees from their work, debilitating performance outcomes. Utilizing a multilevel, time-lagged experience sampling field study across 10 workdays (Level 1 N = 809; Level 2 N = 96), we identify telepressure as a significant contributor of daily workplace anxiety. Further, we found support for an adaptive function of workplace anxiety. On days employees experienced workplace anxiety, their personal initiative and citizenship behaviors were enhanced through behavioral regulatory activity manifested in work e-mail activity. This indirect effect was strengthened for employees perceiving higher (vs. lower) work e-mail centrality. This research advances understanding of the adaptive function of workplace anxiety, such that employees are active drivers of their daily experiences of workplace anxiety.

To Improve Your Work Performance, Get Some Exercise

Although the benefits of physical activity on general well-being are widely acknowledged, there has been a lack of research on how it impacts outcomes at work, including job performance and health. Approximately 200 employees from the UK and China participated in a 10-day study in which the authors captured self-reported and objective physical activity data (via a wearable smart band device), as well as self- and supervisor-reported work outcomes. They uncovered some noteworthy findings about daily physical activity that impact employees and organizations, as well as a few research-backed ways to reap the many benefits of increasing your physical activity.

Pay transparency as a moving target: A multi-step model of pay compression, I-deals, and collectivist shared values

Drawing from research on the transparency-privacy dilemma in management, we theorize that firm-level pay transparency elicits a multistep process involving managers and employees that shifts the dispersion in remuneration from more to less observable forms, thus making pay transparency a “moving target.” We posit a serial indirect effect of pay transparency on firm-level rates of i-deal grants (a less observable form of remuneration) via variable pay compression and heightened rates of employee i-deal requests, with this indirect effect amplified in firms characterized by collectivist shared values. First examining the role of managerial agency and collectivist shared values in the pay transparency–compression relationship in a simulation-based experiment, we test the overall model in a multisource field study using a sample of 111 medical device distribution firms. Our findings demonstrate that: (a) firm-level pay transparency is predictive of greater pay compression, (b) firm-level rates of i-deal grants are largely explained by this pay compression via its effects on employee i-deal requests, and (c) this sequential effect is amplified in firms with more collectivist shared values. Accordingly, we explicate how transparency triggers unintentional hiding, and suggest that accompanying more transparent pay may be an increased reliance upon rewards that, by their very nature, are less transparent.

Research: The Unintended Consequences of Pay Transparency

Pay transparency refers to a pay communications policy in which a company voluntarily provides pay-related information to employees — for example, about the process of the pay system (process transparency) and actual pay levels or ranges (outcome transparency), or even an open policy for employees to freely share information about their pay (communications transparency). Companies around the world have been increasingly adopting pay transparency policies and practices as a means of narrowing the gender pay gap and fostering an engaged and positive working environment that builds trust. Pay transparency can help companies achieve these goals — but it can also have unintended consequences. The authors present three pitfalls to watch out for, plus ways to avoid them.

How to Recover from Work Stress, According to Science

To combat stress and burnout, employers are increasingly offering benefits like virtual mental health support, spontaneous days or even weeks off, meeting-free days, and flexible work scheduling. Despite these efforts and the increasing number of employees buying into the importance of wellness, the effort is lost if you don’t actually recover. So, if you feel like you’re burning out, what works when it comes to recovering from stress? The authors discuss the “recovery paradox” — that when our bodies and minds need to recover and reset the most, we’re the least likely and able to do something about it — and present five research-backed strategies for recovering from stress at work.

Understanding the Dark and Bright Sides of Anxiety: A Theory of Workplace Anxiety

Researchers have uncovered inconsistent relations between anxiety and performance. Although the prominent view is a “dark side,” where anxiety has a negative relation with performance, a “bright side” of anxiety has also been suggested. We reconcile past findings by presenting a comprehensive multilevel, multiprocess model of workplace anxiety called the theory of workplace anxiety (TWA). This model highlights the processes and conditions through which workplace anxiety may lead to debilitative and facilitative job performance and includes 19 theoretical propositions. Drawing on past theories of anxiety, resource depletion, cognitive-motivational processing, and performance, we uncover the debilitative and facilitative nature of dispositional and situational workplace anxiety by positioning emotional exhaustion, self-regulatory processing, and cognitive interference as distinct contrasting processes underlying the relationship between workplace anxiety and job performance. Extending our theoretical model, we pinpoint motivation, ability, and emotional intelligence as critical conditions that shape when workplace anxiety will debilitate and facilitate job performance. We also identify the unique employee, job, and situational characteristics that serve as antecedents of dispositional and situational workplace anxiety. The TWA offers a nuanced perspective on workplace anxiety and serves as a foundation for future work.