Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientific Study Finds Meetings At Work Decrease Employee Well-being, But Not For Everyone

Date:
February 25, 2006
Source:
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Summary:
According to the first comprehensive study ever done on the subject, meetings may be bad for your health, or at least for your feeling of well-being -- especially if you are task-oriented. However, some other people get a secret charge out of meetings, which may explain why they are increasing in frequency in the modern workplace, say a team of industrial and organizational psychologists in an analysis of two large surveys.

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 .

###

Entitled "Not another meeting" Are Meeting Time Demands Related to Employee Well-Being?, the report was authored by Rogelberg, Desmond J. Leach from the University of Sheffield and Jennifer L. Burnfield from Bowling Green State University. It appears in the current issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 91, Issue 2.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "Scientific Study Finds Meetings At Work Decrease Employee Well-being, But Not For Everyone." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060224192947.htm>.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte. (2006, February 25). Scientific Study Finds Meetings At Work Decrease Employee Well-being, But Not For Everyone. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060224192947.htm
University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "Scientific Study Finds Meetings At Work Decrease Employee Well-being, But Not For Everyone." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060224192947.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins