Workdays can now be more than just good or bad.
The type of day you had at work can now be categorized into one of five day types: typical, ideal, crisis, disengaged and toxic, according to new research.
Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University looked at 11,245 workday surveys conducted over two to nine months by 221 office workers, finding that workers tend to work five different types of days.
VCU researchers looked at factors affecting the job as a whole rather than the individual employee, using a rare methodology to study work environment factors such as autonomy, supervisor encouragement and barriers organizational.
Inspired by his own troubles he encountered in a corporate environment, co-author and associate professor of management and entrepreneurship Christopher Reina recalled that his days felt much worse when there were things to do and unexpected problems.
“It unsettles you a bit and it’s really demotivating,” he said. “Changing demands with time constraints can really reduce your ability to complete a task.”
The researchers wanted to know what makes working days go well or not well. So, they used a reliable data set that a Harvard Business School professor gathered from 1996 to 1998 that has been used in multiple studies over a long period of time. One of the reasons for using datasets like this is to remove any ambiguity about external complicating factors – such as a global pandemic.
They found that employees experience the following five types of days:
Typical days represent 34% of working days. These days tend to be forgettable – creativity is at an average level and you’re just motivated enough to be lightly engaged in your work, perhaps to attend a catch-up day.
“A lot of people let themselves down on typical days, which can be a hindrance both to creativity and to more ideal days,” said lead author Alexander MacKay, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship.
Most people probably wonder what an “ideal” day looks like, but they make up 29% of your days. These days are your productive days, filled with freedom, challenging work, and support from management and the organization. An ideal day will keep you going with healthy pressures — like deadlines — but won’t slow you down with obstacles.
We have all been there. During a day of crisis, there are good things – like engaging tasks – but there are even more problems present. In 19% of working days, something explodes or bursts into disaster. You may think you’re doing productive work, but chances are you’re not.
If you feel watched at work, you are having a disengaged day, which is 10% of the days. There are no pressures or motivations present, and you just feel bored and unmotivated.
“It translates into a lack of energy,” Reina said.
Toxic days represent 8% of employee days. A challenge or conflict combined with a poor work environment can lead to one of those really bad days. An emotional conflict in particular will wreak more havoc on your day than a task-related conflict.
The research also found that the types of days we experience tend to appear back-to-back, so your disengagement day can turn into three, and one disengagement day across multiple employees in different offices can turn into a bad situation. of work. The researchers noted that disengaged employees struggle to innovate, so large numbers of disengaged workers lead to low morale, poor quality work, and low productivity.
“There’s a pretty solid playbook on what it takes for a business to be innovative, but we don’t know how to stimulate the creativity of individuals from an organizational perspective,” said Mayoor Mohan, associate professor of marketing. to VCU. School of Business and one of three co-authors. “The people management aspect was not touched.”
Some “worrying” effects of these back-to-back days of disengagement and toxicity are causing people to quit their jobs.
“Leaders play a very important role in engineering the work environment and how people perceive it day-to-day,” Baer said.
One of the most surprising findings of the study was that the factors that led to a good or bad day were beyond employees’ control. So if you’re having a toxic day, you can blame someone else.
“Leaders play a very important role in engineering the work environment and how people perceive it day-to-day,” MacKay said.
MacKay noted that the goal isn’t necessarily to have all ideal and typical days — crisis days are also important. What matters is how these days are handled and how the culture is adjusted to boost morale.
“You kind of need to debate and discuss and compete against each other to move ideas forward,” MacKay acknowledged.
It’s all about balance and being “mindful,” Reina said. Being aware of the type of day you are having allows you to make the necessary changes to get you on the right track.
“Nothing suggests you’re going to have weeks of toxic days — there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Mohan said. “Or, if you’re riding a wave, at some point that wave is going to crash.”