Business Briefs: TGIF, The Motivation of Failure & Speaking Up in the Workplace

Welcome to The Metropreneur’s newest series: Business Briefs. The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.


Researchers at The University of Rostock took a closer look at how the traditional Monday-through-Friday workweek affects our well-being. 

The study involved 87 employees who worked a traditional work week. The employees completed individual surveys two to three times each day over a a 10-day period (beginning on a Friday and ending on a Tuesday). The survey took stock of how they felt at the moment: vitality levels, fatigue levels, sleep quality from the night before…

The researchers found that human energy increased constantly over the weekends, but dropped on Mondays, held steady through Thursdays…and then increased on Fridays again.

While a reader might form lots of conclusions about work-life from this data, the official research team conclusions were that weekend transitions account for human energy changes…and those changes may have to do with the better sleep that weekends allow. 

Read more here

Continuity in Transition: Combining Recovery and Day-of-Week Perspectives to Understand Changes in Employee Energy Across the 7-day Week – Oliver Weigelt, Katja Siestrup & Roman Prem, Journal of Organizational Behavior

Failing Up

“Okay, so we’ve done this before, and it didn’t work.”

That seems like a bad way to introduce a work initiative. But it’s not. Assuming there are good reasons for another attempt, past failed efforts can actually motivate team performance. 

Researchers separated 71 participants into two groups for an initiative that required making cold calls and conducting interviews. One group was informed that a prior initiative had failed, the other group was not. 

In total, the participants made 9,814 calls and accomplished 388 interviews

Based on the accomplishments of each group, the authors found no evidence to suggest that the disclosure of earlier failures was demotivational. This was at least the case in a work environment in which the leader leveraged good charismatic leadership skills. 

In fact, the researchers found that the group who received news of the earlier failure actually performed better in a couple of ways. First, they made more calls and got more interviews. Second, they seemed to invest more of themselves beyond their job descriptions, including brainstorming new ideas on how the initiative could be more successful. 

Read more here

“The good news about bad news”: Information About Past Organizational Failure and its Impact on Worker Productivity – Sabrina Jeworrek, Vanessa Mertins & Michael Vlassopoulos, The Leadership Quarterly

Speak Your Mind

As the world grows increasingly connected and multicultural, differences in etiquette and dynamics can create bumps in the road for workplace climate.

Especially when it comes to speaking up in the workplace. In bigger workplace environments, it seems like some teams member are reliable contributors to planning conversations, while other team members are silent. The question is, why are they silent? Laziness? Indifference? Fear? It turns out that there are a lot of factors motivating silence, and they’re shaped by our culture.

Researchers developed a test for measuring what it calls “employee silence motives” across cultures. It identifies four primary motives for silence: fear, resignation, prosocial, and selfish motives. It launched its test in 21 languages across 33 countries, resulting in 8,222 responses. 

What was found in the responses is that an employee’s silence is often shaped by factors that may include beliefs about power, assertiveness, gender roles, and their personal concepts of the future. 

Countries where silence motives were high? Croatia, Slovenia, Canada and Iran. 

Countries where silence motives were low included Denmark, Chile and (perhaps surprisingly) China. 

In terms of surprises in the findings, the authors offered a brainy explanation: “The low silence scores in China and the high silence scores in the Anglo cluster might be based on the fact that members of different cultures do not just behave differently in a particular situation, but define the situation itself differently”

That is, perhaps the workplace is a very particular context, and employees across the world view workplace roles very differently,

Read more here

International Differences in Employee Silence Motives: Scale Validation, Prevalence, and Relationships with Culture Characteristics Across 33 Countries – Michael Knoll et al., Journal of Organizational Behavior