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While we can blame the extended hours on staff idling at work and time being wasted on meetings and replying to emails, it turns out a boss’s leadership style also plays a crucial role in employee’s poor health.
A recent study focusing on the relationship between transformational leadership and the health of workers found that staff whose bosses encourage longer hours took more time off sick.
The three-year longitudinal study conducted by from the Norwich Business School of University of East Anglia worked with 155 employees of a Danish postal office, who were then asked about their attendance and assess their managers’ leadership style.
Researchers looked into worker’s rate of sickness and absenteeism and also analysed presenteeism, a condition where in employees continue to report to work even if they’re sick.
The data they obtained then reveal that although transformational leadership, which is oozing with inspiration and charisma, can motivate employees to do well in the short term, it may make them sicker in the long term.
The researchers found staff working for transformational leaders took more sick leave in the second year of the study.
But those who had bosses that encouraged working longer hours tended to have the highest levels of sick leave in the third year and much less in the second.
“The assumption that ‘more transformational leadership is better’ does not hold over time,” said Kevin Daniels, university organisational behavior professor and one of the authors.
Daniels explained this could be because such style of leadership may compel sick employees to continue reporting to work while ignoring their symptoms or delaying treatment.
This attitude may also reduce the recovery period of the sick employees or lengthen their sickness time, as well as boost the risk of absenteeism. To make things even worse, the longer the sickness lingers, the higher the chances the infection will spread.
“As role models, transformational leaders should display healthy behaviours when motivating people, they should monitor and check them, and encourage workers to look after their own health. Managers need to strike a balance, they can still encourage staff to perform well, but in a way that is not at the expense of their health and well-being,” he added