Researchers found perfectionism in the workplace can be dangerous.
After about two years, 10,000 hours of staring at a computer screen and many gallons of coffee, Brian Swider, an assistant professor in the UF management department within the Warrington College of Business, and his team completed their research on perfectionism in October.
Swider worked with researchers from Miami University in Ohio and Ph.D. candidates from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
They went through about 4,000 papers that talked about perfectionism and then narrowed it down to 95 studies that discussed it in relation to things like conscientiousness, emotional stability and motivation, Swinder said.
Perfectionism first became a popular topic for research in the 1980s, so the team had to search every study that even mentioned perfectionism since then, Swider said.
“We have robust evidence that levels of perfectionism are increasing,” Swider said. “Perfectionism is thought to be helpful in the workplace, but we don’t see results of that at all.”
The results of the study suggested that while perfectionism is related to higher levels of motivation and engagement, its negative connection to mental well-being is more serious, Swider said.
“The more people realize that putting unrealistic standards on themselves and others is ineffective, the more they will see improvements to their mental health,” Swider said.
The researchers were shocked to learn that perfectionism has no effect on a person’s success in the workforce but is a detriment to mental-health and well-being, said Dana Harari, a Ph.D. candidate from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The results from this research will help managers recognize that this behavior is not a benefit for the company and that they instead should promote healthy work habits, Harari said.
It is common for an organization’s manager to encourage employees to strive for perfection and accept nothing less than the best result, Harari said. This research has proven that this can be dangerous for employees.
“Perfectionists don’t enjoy their achievements but focus on what they haven’t achieved, and this is problematic,” Harari said.