Business 20 March 2017
Most of us would like to work for a company where we can trust leadership and fellow coworkers. After all we spend the better part of our lives at the office so a modicum of general goodwill and decorum is sensible. But can companies fit that description and still obtain their goals and profits that shareholders expect? When it comes to success, many, albeit sadly, assume that reaching the top requires ethical compromises.
Thoughts of Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko character from the film Wall Street, and his slicked-back hair are an apt metaphor for unfettered ambition and greed. Gekko's famous line: “Greed Is Good," firmly remains a part of the American lexicon that it continues to inspire young Wall Street brokers nearly 20 years after its release.
According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Beth A. Livingston of Cornell, Charlice Hurst of the University of Western Ontario, and Timothy A. Judge of Notre Dame, levels of “agreeableness" are negatively correlated with the earnings of men. The defined terms, of which there are six facets to agreeableness, are: trust, altruism, compliance, straightforwardness, tender-mindedness and modesty.
Do nice gals finish last?
Why might “niceness" be a disadvantage? It helps to understand the essence of disagreeableness. Being disagreeable does not necessarily mean that you're dealing with a sociopath, far from it. It simply means that “disagreeableness" is the willingness, however uncomfortable it may make others feel, to aggressively advocate for their interests during conflicts.
Conversely, more agreeable people are much more likely to compromise for the good of the group. While conflict is never enjoyable, their disagreeable coworkers insist on holding firm. They do not mind fighting for what they want. To more clearly define the relationship between agreeableness and income, the researchers began with a data set consisting of nearly 9,000 people who entered the labor force over the decade from 2,000 thru 2,010.
The subjects were repeatedly interviewed about their career and given a battery of personality and cognitive tests. Levels of agreeableness, for example, were measured with a standard set of questions, such as, “Do you feel that agreeable describes you as a person, where 1 means quarrelsome and 5 means agreeable?" These ratings were then compared to income data.
The results were depressing
The study's first notable revelation was that women entering the workforce earn much less than men. Even after controlling for education, marital status, hours worked per week and workforce continuity, young women still earned $4,787 less than their male counterparts, or an average loss of 14 percent. Worse still was the news for agreeable men: nearly $7,000 less than their agreeable peers, whereas agreeable women were not quite as bad off, earning $1,100 less. In a series of follow-up studies, the researchers replicated their results, showing that agreeable men earn less even after controlling for a long list of variables, including other personality traits and the possibility that agreeable people choose less lucrative professions. The researchers summarized their data:
“Overall, across the first three studies, men who are one standard deviation below the mean on agreeableness earn an average of 18.31 percent ($9,772) more than men one standard deviation above the mean on agreeableness. Meanwhile, the “disagreeableness premium" for women was only 5.47 percent ($1,828). Thus, the income premium for disagreeableness is more than three times stronger for men than for women."
More bad findings...
What's driving this bleak correlation? In their final study, the researchers conducted an experiment on 460 undergrads in a business management class at a large American university. The students were given eight hypothetical job candidates, all of whom were described as smart, conscientious and insightful. However, their degrees of agreeableness were varied so that some candidates were described as much more trusting and humble than others. These 460 undergrads were then asked to select the best candidates for management fast-tracking.
Yet again, the study results were depressing: the candidates with higher levels of agreeableness were much less likely to get fast-tracked, especially if they were male (Women were slightly less likely to get picked for promotion regardless of their personality). This suggests that nice guys finish last because of an inherent bias against them.
Agreeable people are less likely to get fired, and are just as likely to supervise others. They appear far less effective at negotiating salary increases, thus suggesting that the main (financial) benefit of disagreeableness is a willingness to stubbornly fight for one's own best interests, even as it may make others uncomfortable.
Furthermore, the researchers argue that agreeableness is especially costly for men because it violates our gender expectations, since it is assumed that men will selfishly pursue their interests, albeit generalizations-cloaked, we tend to look down on those men who do not. In short, we expect the worst and punish the best.
What can we learn?
Some people find it difficult to hold firm, particularly when it involves asking for a promotion, or a pay increase. But it's well worth the anxiety-inducing moments that can help to push beyond self-limitations toward the path of self-enlightenment and strength. So let's embrace the challenge of pushing beyond needless self-limitation and perhaps enjoy an additional few thousand dollars pay increase.
3 Min Read
With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.