When your co-worker gets extra respect and attention from your boss, do you feel envious? If so, be warned that this feelings of envy may lead to a higher degree of ego depletion as well as negatively affect your overall productivity.
The study shows that while employees are concerned with their treatment by an authority, they are equally concerned with that treatment relative to others in their work group.
‘Employees who carry home negative feelings, and go to bed with them, wake up with them and gets stuck with them into the following day, ultimately wasting valuable time and productivity.’
The findings revealed that the more the envy increases, the more one may become "ego depleted" -- a general lack of the personal resources one needs to focus on and complete daily tasks, the researchers said.
Employees who carried home these negative feelings went to bed with them, woke up with them and stuck with them into the following day, ultimately wasting valuable time and productivity.
"This is significant because the workers who are valuable for problem-solving, skilled negotiating and finding timely solutions are also the ones who ruminate longer over processing the social injustice and envy they feel," said Joel Koopman, Assistant Professor at University of Cincinnati, in the US.
The more energy employees expend on processing the injustice, the less their resources are, and they become less likely to help others in the office.
"This cycle can build to the point that tremendous time and energy is wasted on simply processing negative emotions, leaving critical work projects to flounder until resolutions are achieved," Koopman added.
Further, a strong link was found between an employee's feelings of envy after they perceive a supervisor has treated them worse relative to their co-workers and the length of time by which they process this information.
For the study, the team tested a group of participants with two surveys per day for 15 workdays, each day asking the participants how fairly they had been treated by their supervisor relative to their co-workers.
The survey measured for the possible experience of envy immediately, and then how that envy persisted into the next day. The results showed that during such a response, the length of that envy response affected the employee's willingness to help co-workers with their tasks and were less likely to listen to personal problems.
"Future research looking at solving the risk and benefits of workplace coping mechanisms can be key for maintaining a happy balance at work," Koopman noted. The study was presented recently, at the 76th annual meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM) in Anaheim, California.