If you show up at work tired, you may want to focus strictly on your own tasks. New research suggests helping coworkers in the morning can lead to mental exhaustion and self-serving behavior in the afternoon that ultimately can create a toxic work environment.
The study builds on the previous work of Michigan State University’s Russell Johnson and colleagues that found helping others at work can be mentally fatiguing for employees.
Turns out, that helping behavior can be particularly harmful when it’s done in the morning hours.
“The increase in mental fatigue from helping coworkers in the morning led employees to reduce their helping behaviors in the afternoon and, perhaps more interestingly, they engaged in more self-serving political behaviors in the afternoon as well,” said Johnson, associate professor of management in MSU’s Broad College of Business. “They switched from being other-oriented in the morning to being selfish in the afternoon.”
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