Practices intended to boost profits may harm workers: study

July 15, 2010

Employer-implemented measures intended to improve productivity and profit may increase stress on workers, suggests a study from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Researchers examined data on working conditions, workplace relationships and worker behavior over the past 80 years and found an increase in professional business practices such as layoffs, outsourcing jobs, replacing salaried employees with contract staff and putting employees on short-term teams for individual projects. Those measures had unintended negative consequences for employees, who may face an overwhelming work pace and feel a greater sense of chaos, fear and distrust of management, according to a university press release.

Workers also are less likely to help others because they want to protect their own jobs, which can lead to co-worker conflict and more stress.

Such practices can result in high turnover rates in the long term, researchers said.

The study is scheduled to be published in the August issue of Social Problems.