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STUDY FINDS SUPERVISOR KEY TO HAPPIER, HEALTHIER, MORE PRODUCTIVE WORKPLACE

 STUDY FINDS SUPERVISOR KEY TO HAPPIER, HEALTHIER,
 MORE PRODUCTIVE WORKPLACE
 ST. PAUL, Minn., Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Organizations that want a happier, healthier, more productive workplace need to take a hard look at the performance of their supervisors.
 A nationwide study of 28,000 employees by St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company identified poor supervision as one of the most potent causes of burnout and performance problems on the job.
 The study, called "American Workers Under Pressure," also found that poor supervision was the work-related problem most likely to cause problems in an employee's personal life. According to study coordinator Stacey Kohler, Ph.D., these difficulties at home have the potential to cause another round of problems on the job, leading to a downward spiral of mistakes and accidents and reduced quality of life for the employee.
 The study examined three years of data collected through surveys of 215 diverse policyholder organizations. The St. Paul conducted the surveys to help the organizations identify and manage stressors that affected employees' productivity and well-being. On the theory that employees don't leave their personal lives at home when they go to work and vice versa, the study went beyond the typical job stress research to examine the interrelationships of stress on the job, stress in one's personal life and how certain lifestyle practices impact workplace performance. By looking at the employee's total environment, Kohler said, "organizations can get at the root causes of difficulties and more effectively and economically solve problems that affect their employees and -- ultimately -- the company's bottom lines."
 One in Three Workers Affected
 The St. Paul's study found that one in three workers was either disappointed in or neutral about their supervisors -- a stunning figure in light of the supervisor's importance in the organization, according to Kohler.
 Among workers whose supervisors rate poorly, 52 percent said they are burned out (compared with 25 percent of those reporting good supervisors) and 76 percent said their co-workers talk about leaving the company. On the flip side, those who rated their supervisors as good cared much more about quality and missed fewer work days. "Given the competitive environment of the '90s, the impact of supervisors on today's organizations cannot be overstated," Kohler said.
 The study revealed other findings that reflect the attitudes of today's workers and affect their well-being on and off the job. Among them:
 -- Problems at work can have a more negative effect on both work and home life than problems at home. Contrary to what might be expected, The St. Paul's study found that problems in an employee's personal life due to his or her job led to burnout, work performance problems and health problems much more frequently than did the most potent, truly personal problems, such as the death of a family member of relationship problems.
 -- Employees who lead a balanced life (having support from family and friends, being able to relax and have fun after work, etc.) tend to be the least stressed at work. For example, of the respondents reporting the highest levels of burnout, 41 percent say their lives are not balanced, versus 17 percent who have good balance in their lives.
 -- Of the eight work-related issues that The St. Paul studied, compensation had the weakest effect on job satisfaction, performance and employee health. "This does not mean that pay is irrelevant," Kohler said. "However, other work-related factors such as one's supervisor, workload, work group morale and a challenging job have a much greater impact once minimal acceptable pay level is achieved."
 -- As men and women continue to work together in the workplace, their perceptions of it seem to be more similar. For example, in response to the statement, "There is sexual harassment in this company," 12 percent of both males and females said yes, 64 percent of males and 68 percent of females said no, 23 percent of males and 20 percent of females said maybe.
 St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, the 16th largest property-liability insurer in the United States, is a member of The St. Paul Companies. The company sells insurance and insurance-related products and services through a network of independent insurance agents and brokers. The St. Paul Companies' stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "SPC."
 -0- 10/12/92
 /CONTACT: Selden Sutton of Padilla Speer Beardsley, 212-752-8338, for The St. Paul Companies; Karol Allen, 612-228-5790, or Kathy Trill, 612-221-7349, both of The St. Paul Companies/
 (SPC) CO: The St. Paul Companies ST: Minnesota IN: INS SU:


AL -- MN010 -- 8842 10/12/92 12:01 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 12, 1992
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