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Blacks Are Happier Employees, Study Reveals

Update Date: Dec 05, 2013 10:36 AM EST

Blacks are happier employees, a new study suggests.

The latest findings show that blacks report significantly more positive emotions in the workplace than whites. Researchers said that findings are surprising because blacks on average work in more routine and less autonomous jobs, have fewer close friends at work, and feel less supported by their coworkers.

"We were surprised by this," lead researcher Melissa M. Sloan, an assistant professor of interdisciplinary social sciences and sociology at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, said in a news release. "Based on the history of discrimination against African Americans in the workplace, we thought blacks would experience more negative emotions at work than whites. As it turned out, the opposite was true."

The study, which included more than 1,300 state government employees in Tennessee, found that as the greater the proportion of minorities in the workplace, the more close friends blacks had and the fewer whites had.

"What was surprising to us about these findings was that the percentage of minority workers in a workplace more strongly influenced the friendships of whites than blacks," Sloan said.

The findings also revealed that whites experienced more negative emotions when there were more minorities in a workplace.

"This is a concern because the increased negative emotions of white workers in racially diverse workplaces can negatively impact the workplace atmosphere," Sloan said.

Researchers also found that providing social support helped blacks more than whites in terms of boosting positive emotions.

"By providing support to colleagues, black workers may feel valued and more integrated into the work environment," Sloan said. "In contrast, white workers who do not experience social isolation in the same way as black workers do, may find providing support to be a burden."

Researchers said that latest findings suggest that more studies are needed to find out how to persuade people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to develop supportive relationships with each other.

"Simply increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the workplace might not be enough to foster social connections between workers with different backgrounds and, in fact, may elicit negative emotions among members of the majority group," Sloan said.

The findings are published in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly.

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