Less job stress for workers at financially transparent firms

January 25, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Employees feel significantly less job distress if they work at companies that are open and transparent about the firm's finances, including budgets and profits, a new study found.

Researchers examining data from the U.K. found that at companies with more financial transparency, workers felt more secure in their jobs, more committed to their employers and - most significantly - said they had better relationships with their managers.

The link between greater transparency and lower job distress was strong and stood up even after accounting for a variety of other factors, including hours worked, income rank within the firm, gender, race and academic qualifications, said Hui Zheng, lead author of the study and associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

"Transparency in disclosing financial information may substantially reduce job distress, particularly by smoothing relationships between workers and managers," Zheng said.

The study was published online recently in the journal Social Science Research and will appear in a future print edition.

The importance of financial transparency was particularly important for workers who weren't covered by collective bargaining agreements, said study co-author Vincent Roscigno, professor of sociology at Ohio State.

"Workers covered by collective bargaining agreements may expect that their union representatives are looking out for their best interests, so they don't have to pay as much attention to what the company reveals," Roscigno said.

"But if your workplace is not unionized, workers feel more stress if their companies don't disclose financial information. They may be worried about getting laid off if the company is not doing well financially or wonder if they're being treated fairly as far as their wages are concerned."

The researchers used a unique data set with measures generally not available for workplaces in the United States or elsewhere that allowed them to uncover the link between how companies communicate about their finances and worker stress.

The data came from the Worker and Employment Relation Study and included 15,747 workers from about 2,500 workplaces throughout Britain.

Job-related distress was measured by asking workers how often in the past few weeks that their job had made them feel tense, depressed, worried, gloomy, uneasy and miserable. They rated this on a five-point scale from "all of the time" to "never."

Workers rated how well managers at their workplace did at keeping employees informed about financial matters, including budget or profits. Workers rated this on a five-point scale from "very good" to "very poor."

Zheng said it was remarkable how powerful financial transparency was at lessening job distress, even after taking into account other factors known to impact stress.

"Workers at companies with the highest levels of financial transparency had stress level scores about 15 percent lower than workers at companies with the lowest levels of transparency," Zheng said. "That was a bigger effect on stress than gender or income."

Workers reported feeling more commitment to their company and feeling more secure in their jobs when they worked at firms that revealed more about their finances.

But those effects were relatively small compared to how transparency was linked to improved relationships with managers, Roscigno said.

"Even though financial transparency is about disclosing budgets, profits or other financial matters, the way it reduces job distress is not mainly about the money. It is about the relationships, especially with managers," he said.

The results have important implications for the workplace, Zheng said.

"The workplace is a major source of stress in modern society. Our findings show an important way that companies can reduce some of this distress and improve manager-employee relations," he said.

"It comes down to being more transparent about financial information."
Other co-authors on the study were Jacob Tarrence, a graduate student in sociology at Ohio State, and Scott Schieman, professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.


Hui Zheng,

Vincent Roscigno,

Written by Jeff Grabmeier,

Ohio State University

Related Stress Articles from Brightsurf:

Stress-free gel
Researchers at The University of Tokyo studied a new mechanism of gelation using colloidal particles.

Early life stress is associated with youth-onset depression for some types of stress but not others
Examining the association between eight different types of early life stress (ELS) and youth-onset depression, a study in JAACAP, published by Elsevier, reports that individuals exposed to ELS were more likely to develop a major depressive disorder (MDD) in childhood or adolescence than individuals who had not been exposed to ELS.

Red light for stress
Researchers from the Institute of Industrial Science at The University of Tokyo have created a biphasic luminescent material that changes color when exposed to mechanical stress.

How do our cells respond to stress?
Molecular biologists reverse-engineer a complex cellular structure that is associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS

How stress remodels the brain
Stress restructures the brain by halting the production of crucial ion channel proteins, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

How plants handle stress
Plants get stressed too. Drought or too much salt disrupt their physiology.

Stress in the powerhouse of the cell
University of Freiburg researchers discover a new principle -- how cells protect themselves from mitochondrial defects.

Measuring stress around cells
Tissues and organs in the human body are shaped through forces generated by cells, that push and pull, to ''sculpt'' biological structures.

Cellular stress at the movies
For the first time, biological imaging experts have used a custom fluorescence microscope and a novel antibody tagging tool to watch living cells undergoing stress.

Read More: Stress News and Stress Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.