BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Management efforts to reduce cynicism and
enhance employee empowerment can have a large impact on employee
engagement, according to a study from the University at Buffalo
School of Management.
The study, recently published in Organization Science,
investigated officer attitudes and organizational climates at 14
state prisons and found that proactive leadership can reduce
cynicism toward change for both individual employees and across an
"In prisons, employees face an array of very real and
challenging circumstances which can create commitment problems,"
explains study co-author Paul Tesluk, PhD, Donald S. Carmichael
Professor of Organizational Behavior in the UB School of
Management. "Past research has shown that there are extraordinarily
high turnover rates of 50 percent in the first year of service and
38 percent overall."
Tesluk said the study's findings are useful to managers in a
variety of organizational settings beyond prisons.
"Senior leaders should be aware of the potential development of
a cynical culture in their organizations, which may amplify
employees' negative attitudes toward change," says Tesluk. "By
addressing the issue, management can foster employees who are more
committed, leading to reduced turnover and disengagement."
Leaders can limit the development of these negative cultures by
making sure that their words are backed by specific actions, such
as regularly asking for and acting on employee feedback, or
providing ways for employees to participate in organizational
change efforts, according to the study.
"Employees who feel empowered in their jobs will feel confident
in attempting new ways of performing their jobs, especially during
change efforts, and thus be less likely to experience cynicism
towards change in for-profit and public organizations alike,"
Tesluk collaborated on the study with Katherine DeCelles, PhD,
assistant professor of organizational behavior and HR management at
the University of Toronto; and Faye Taxman, PhD, director of the
Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence at George Mason
The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on
real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global
perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school has
been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes,
U.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal for the
quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides
its graduates. For more information about the UB School of
Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.