MSU study finds correlation between workplace negativity and decline in productivity
According to a recent MSU study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, workplace negativity can adversely affect productivity.
The study, conducted by management professor Russell Johnson and doctoral student Szu-Han Lin, found that workers who regularly point out problems might become mentally fatigued.
In an MSU Today article, Johnson said that these workers who cause the negativity will see a decline in their own work performance and they are less likely to be cooperative and helpful.
Arts and humanities senior Justin Cook said he encountered workplace negativity when he worked at a tech office in Okemos. Cook said most of his coworkers were much older than him so it was difficult for him to relate to them.
“(They) were very conservative people, so I felt like sometimes the things they talked about, socially or politically, didn’t necessarily line up with my world views,” he said. “A lot of the time, I didn’t really want to get in an argument with them, so I just shut my mouth and ... let it continue.”
Cook said it sometimes seemed like his older coworkers were taking advantage of him and the other college students working in the office, as they were forced to work odd hours and complete seemingly irrelevant tasks. This only made things worse.
Looking back, Cook said he thinks he handled the situation well. He said he didn’t speak up very often because he didn’t feel like there was anything he could say to change his coworker's minds. However, in a few drastic circumstances, he said he did fight back.
“Usually those few times when I did speak up, since I didn’t do it very often, I felt like they actually listened to me, they took a step back and didn’t say those things again," Cook said. "So, I think ... picking and choosing the right times to say things was the key thing."
Cook said he would advise other students to follow his lead, as learning to deal with people you don’t necessarily like is a trait needed constantly throughout life.
However, Cook also said if a work environment ever becomes seriously detrimental to one’s health, it might be best to simply quit.
“There are some things that are more important than trying to make money and I feel like you could probably find another job somewhere else if something is really that bad,” he said.