FSU researcher: As gas prices climb, employee productivity plummets

May 05, 2008

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Rising gas prices are affecting more than the family budget. More pain at the pump results in more employee stress on the job, says Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Management at Florida State University's College of Business.

"People concerned with the effects of gas prices were significantly less attentive on the job, less excited about going to work, less passionate and conscientious and more tense," Hochwarter said. "These people also reported more 'blues' on the job. Employees were simply unable to detach themselves from the stress caused by escalating gas prices as they walked through the doors at work."

Hochwarter gleaned the information by surveying more than 800 full-time employees this spring when gas prices hovered at about $3.50 per gallon. All of the people surveyed work in a wide range of occupations, primarily in the southeastern United States. All drove personal transportation to work and had an average commute of 15 miles each way.

Survey respondents said gas prices were foremost on their mind, including a disgruntled factory worker who wrote, "I spend more time at work trying to figure out what I need to give up to keep gas in my tank than thinking about how to do my job."

Hochwarter's research will be submitted for publication later this summer. Among his findings: Hochwarter's discussions with employees confirm the study's results. Many employees report that gas prices rank as the No. 1 water-cooler discussion topic, ahead of family, sports or work, he said. He found little difference in responses among different ages, gender, work tenure and occupations.

"Several employees said they simply could not escape the media onslaught of bad news regarding the future of gas prices, and many reported their financial futures were looking bleaker and bleaker," Hochwarter said.

As gas prices rise, so does the stress. Consider the words of Sandy, a medical records clerk: "The more it goes up, the more behind I get. If gas goes up to $5 or $6 a gallon, I just don't know what I'll do."
-end-
For more stories about FSU, visit our news site at www.fsu.com

Florida 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.