Business Briefs: What’s Leading to Workplace Disputes, Business Anthropomorphism & Crowdfunding Tips

Welcome to 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.

Newly Violent Workplace

The National Institution for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been studying  workplace violence since the 1980s. Back in the day, the violence was often associated with events like mass shootings at work. 

But that’s no longer the case. In a review of data over the years, the face of workplace violence has changed dramatically. The recent NIOSH report reflects how things have changed over the decades and especially now in the pandemic era. 

Traditionally, healthcare workers, convenience store clerks and taxi drivers were all at a higher risk of physical injury than folks who work in other fields. If you count non-physical altercations as violence (like bullying and verbal abuse), teachers and school staff are also at higher-risk. 

The pandemic hasn’t helped.

Reporting unpublished, preliminary data, NIOSH indicates that that more than 400 workplace violence events related to COVID-19 were tabulated in the media between March 1 and October 31, 2020. In looking closer at the events, 41% involved a mix of physical and non-physical attacks, 27% were physical violence alone. 

In the collection, NIOSH reports that 72% of the incidents were about mask disputes and 22% involved coughing or spitting on workers. 

Read more here

Workplace Violence Research – Dawn Castillo et al., Centers for Disease Control 

Anthropomorphism at Work

“Anthropomorphism” isn’t a word you hear in business conversations very much…it refers to when you give human characteristics to a non-human thing. 

Like calling your business “my baby.” That’s anthropomorphic. 

A survey assessed the answers from 146 entrepreneurs to determine how viewing their business anthropomorphically might affect resilience. In terms of the participants, 67% ran small businesses with less than five employees, and 77% had been in business for less than 10 years. The sorts of business they ran included service, manufacturing, and retail.  

The survey asked participants if they agreed with statements like:

“My business is congruent with the image I hold of myself.” (If you agree, that’s considered an anthropomorphic view.) And “I take stressful things at work in stride.” (If you agree, that indicates resilience.) 

The researchers found that having an anthropomorphic view of a business project tended to make an entrepreneur more resilient, that is, they were more able to manage stress and overcome obstacles.  

That said, the resilience effect happened when the entrepreneur was the lone operator. The positive relationship was absent in family businesses. 

In general, the lesson for entrepreneurs is this: Think of your business as your offspring, or at least think of it as a friend. It’s good for your overall outlook. 

Read more here

“I will not let you die”: The Effect of Anthropomorphism on Entrepreneurs’ Resilience During Economic Downturn – Widya Paramita, Risa Virgosita, Rokhima Rostiani, Amin Wibowo, Rangga Almahendra, and Eddy Junarsin, Journal of Business Venturing Insights

Crowdfund Smartly

Online platforms like Indiegogo, Kickstarter and Fundable connect investors to ambitious new business projects. Those opportunities can be profitable for both entrepreneurs and investors. 

But it doesn’t always work out great. Sometimes, the projects fail, leading to disappointment all the way around. A researcher at the University of Oklahoma looked at 62 articles about crowdfunding initiatives to identify how fund-raisers can build better plans, and how investors can make better decisions. Based on the literature, there’s good advice for both ends of the deal:

If you’re an investor…

  1. A product that seems useful is useless if it’s not feasible. 
  2. Feasibility can be determined by looking at the most radical step in the plan.
  3. Look for independent opinions and contrary evidence before investing.
  4. Seek projects with contingency plans for if things go wrong.

And if you’ve got a cool project…

  1. Test your project a LOT before launching a fundraising initiative. Use realistic conditions in your tests.
  2. Create flexibility in your proposal and include contingency plans
  3. Communicate transparently about every step of progress or delays.

Read more here

Red Flags and Rave Reviews: Explaining Too-Good-to-be-True Crowdfunding Campaigns – Stella Seyb, Business Horizons