Washington: A recent study has shown that managers who demonstrate ethical leadership through two-way communication, positive reinforcement and emotional support helps alleviate stress in the work environment.
The study published in the journal Applied Psychology – An International Review, determined conflicts between the home and work environment causes stress for employees, who, in turn, engage in words and behaviour meant to damage the reputation of their co-workers.
“When family and life issues conflict with work situations, this can cause ‘hindrance stress’ which means job demands are viewed as obstacles to personal growth or goals,” said Dr Gabi Eissa.
“Hindrance stress often depletes the employee’s ability to exercise self-control and they lash out with aggressive and undermining behaviour toward their peers,” added Eissa.
While it would be easy for supervisors to ignore the situation or to confront and punish employees for counter-productive behaviour, the research shows that ethical leadership may prevent these types of outbursts from even happening.
“We define ‘ethical leadership’ as supervisors who demonstrate appropriate work conduct through their personal actions and those who engage employees by discussing their work-related worries and emotions,” said Eissa.
“Ethical leaders want to help employees respond positively to negative situations and they try to offer resources to help employees who may find themselves hitting a rough patch,” Eissa added.
Eissa and Dr Rebecca Wyland, surveyed 156 employees who worked at least 20 hours a week (focal employees) and one of their co-workers to determine how work-family conflict-affected hindrance stress (can we define hindrance stress?).
They asked focal employees to measure work/family conflict stress, hindrance stress and the ethical leadership qualities of their management team. They then asked the co-workers a series of questions designed to measure social undermining activities.
“Once the data was merged, the results showed that hindrance stress – a specific type of stress – was a key factor that linked work-family conflict to social undermining,” reported Eissa.
“We also found less social undermining among employees in presence of ethical leadership as well as how and when work-family conflict led social undermining, Eissa added.
“Our conclusions may have implications for organisational policies, programs and training initiatives that are aimed at reducing work-family conflict and hindrance stress. This, of course, leads to less social undermining and a more positive, productive workplace,” said Eissa.
“Our findings may help organisations to understand the importance of having ethical leaders, but it takes a commitment from their top leadership to make this a reality,” Eissa added.