Have you ever wondered how it would be if you could work in an office comprised of one gender? Wouldn’t that be easier and create a more productive work environment? One study says otherwise.
If you are a man and reading this, have you ever sat back and wished that you could just be surrounded by only dudes at work? And ladies, wouldn’t it be nice to just have a bunch of girls to work with? Wouldn’t it be easier without having to worry about gender roles in the office? In fact, both genders feel more comfortable working with their specific sex. It makes sense yet it doesn’t necessarily translate into increased productivity. In fact, it will actually hurt your bottom line to have gender specific offices.
EurkeAlert! published an article detailing some findings that are sure to surprise most of you: Having a more gender diverse workplace will actually increase productivity. The paper, “Diversity, Social Goods Provision, and Performance in the Firm,” that was published in the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy is causing quite the commotion on this topic. And while it may help your bottom line to be diverse, it doesn’t mean that employees will be pleased with it. In fact, gender diversity has actually shown to decrease employee satisfaction. Sara Ellison, co-author of the paper and MIT researcher, explains:
“Having a more diverse set of employees means you have a more diverse set of skills which could result in an office that functions better.”
But how does this affect worker happiness? She continues:
“The more homogeneous offices have higher levels of social capital. But the interesting twist is that … higher levels of social capital are not important enough to cause those offices to perform better. The employees might be happier, they might be more comfortable, and these might be cooperative places, but they seem to perform less well.”
So how did Ellison and her partner, Wallace P. Mullin, an economist hailing from George Washington University, discover these findings? Using results from a company with over 60 offices in the United States as well as abroad during an eight year period from 1995 to 2002. The company studied, ideal in its varying workplace environments, has offices consisting of entirely female workers, some that are entirely male, and also maintaining mixed gender ones to boot. Ellison and Mullin were able to study morale, satisfaction, and cooperation in each environment. They found that the offices with evenly split genders saw an increase in revenue by about 41 percent. But how is that possible? Well, having a mixed gender workplace offers more diversity in experience. Another observation that they were able to make may come as a surprise. Ellison stated:
“In offices where people thought the firm was accepting of diversity, they were happier and more cooperative. But that didn’t translate into any effect on office performance. People may like the idea of a diverse workplace more than they like actual diversity in the workplace.”
We here at The Methodology Blog are constantly on the lookout for ways to increase employee satisfaction and also improve employee retention. Does that mean that companies should shift to having one gender to accommodate happiness? Not if you want to see an increase in revenue. But even if a company states they are gender diverse, without even backing that claim up, employees were happier. That doesn’t mean they are more efficient at all, but they enjoy the idea that they work for a company that states its diverse. In reality, most people just feel more comfortable working with the same sex.
Looking for some more thoughts and ideas on productivity? Reach out to one of our experts in business improvement services!