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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 55-60  

Yoga and its impact on counterproductive work behavior

Department of Yoga and Management Studies, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication22-Dec-2015

Correspondence Address:
Umesh Dwivedi
Department of Yoga and Management Studies, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, 19, Eknath Bhavan, Gavipuram Circle, Kempegowda Nagar, Bengaluru - 560 019, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-2870.172430

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Background: Counterproductive work behavior (CWB) is a matter of concern for many organizations because it represents a potential for an extensive range of negative performance and psycho-social outcomes for organization and its members and it results in enormous losses to organizations. Objectives: To assess the effect of yoga on working professionals and its role in the reduction of CWB by overcoming issues of stress, anxiety, aggression, and negative emotions. Materials and Methods: A randomized controlled pre- and post-test study conducted. Study sample included yoga group (n = 80) and control group (n = 80). Yoga module that included asanas, pranayama, meditation, and yogic theory lectures were taught to the yoga group. Mild to moderate physical exercises and management lectures were taught to the control group. Both groups received intervention for ten weeks, covering 1 hour daily, 5 days a week. Measurements of self-reported CWBs were taken as baseline and post intervention for assessment. Within group, comparison was performed in paired t-test and between group comparisons was performed in the analysis of covariance with baseline score as a covariate. Gender difference for CWB scores was measured in an independent t-test. The relationship between variables was investigated using Pearson correlation. Results: Yoga group reported statistically significant reduction in CWB in comparison to the control group. The gender difference was observed in the case of CWB scores. Conclusion: This study provides evidence of yoga practices as viable and costs effective solution in reducing CWB at the workplace and its predictors such as stress, negative affectivity, and aggression. There seems to be a great deal of assurance in the yoga session if conducted at workplace toward getting numerous benefits on the mental and physical health of employees and substantial savings for employers from losses.

Keywords: Aggression, counterproductive work behavior, negative affectivity, yoga

How to cite this article:
Dwivedi U, Kumari S, Nagendra H R. Yoga and its impact on counterproductive work behavior. Med J DY Patil Univ 2016;9:55-60

How to cite this URL:
Dwivedi U, Kumari S, Nagendra H R. Yoga and its impact on counterproductive work behavior. Med J DY Patil Univ [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Jan 27];9:55-60. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Counterproductive work behavior (CWB) includes actions such as sabotage, theft, verbal abuse, physical assault, withholding of work, lying, and opposition to cooperate. [1] CWB negatively impacts both organizations in terms of increased insurance cost, productivity loss, damaged property, [2] and employees in terms of job dissatisfaction [3] and stress.

As per the study conducted by Bowling and Eschleman, [4] CWBs are results of an ineffective coping with work stressors and work stress elements which are positively related to CWBs generated from role of employee, organizational constraints in the organization, and interpersonal conflict. Occupational stress impacts interpersonal conflict or involvement into arguments with other workers and has demonstrated a relationship with various kinds of CWB. [5]

Negative affectivity (NA) is defined as the level to which individuals experience aversive emotional states. [6] NA is also correlated to CWB in terms of work avoidance, work sabotage, abusive behavior, threats, and overt acts. [7] Employees high on NA are more likely to possess a hostile attribution style and that tendency to make hostile attributions may lead to increased conflict, anger, and aggression. [8] Penney and Spector [1] have found that other stress elements such as workplace incivility along with interpersonal conflict, and constraints in the organization were more strongly related to CWBs among employees showing higher NA.

Aggression remains a key aspect of most studies about CWB and it is also linked with personality traits. CWB is negatively associated with emotional stability, conscientiousness, and agreeableness whereas positive relationship is observed for organizational constraints and interpersonal conflict. [9] Judge, Scott and Ilies [10] studied attitudes at work, dynamic nature of emotions and its relation with workplace deviance. They found that the root causes for half of the total variance in workplace deviance are present within individuals.

Workplace aggression meta-analysis by Hershcovis et al. [11] found that gender came out to be a strong predictor of interpersonal induced aggression than organizational induced aggression. Spector and Zhou [9] also examined gender as a moderator of several predictors and CWB relationships. Metal-analysis by Cross et al., [12] showed differences in impulsivity based on the gender difference. The study was conducted to find resistance to temptation and it is reported that overall females showed more restraint than males. [13] Bouhnik and Mor [14] studied gender differences regarding immoral behavior and found that boys were involved quite often than girls in behaviors such as cyber bullying, plagiarism, creating false identity, and downloading movie or music unlawfully from the illegal sources of internet.

Therefore, there is a growing interest in CWB by researchers to identify ways to control predictors of counterproductive behavior at both interpersonal and organizational levels.

Main effect of yoga on counterproductive work behavior

Yoga is an ancient art of health promotion, comprising of asana as physical activity, breathing exercises, and meditation practices to develop and improve mindfulness and awareness of the body and mind. Perceived stress is a measure of the degree to which situations in one's life are appraised as stressful. Ramadoss and Bose, [15] and Hartfiel et al. [16] found that yoga based sessions can be effective in reducing perceived stress and physiological stress, such as back pain which results in absenteeism because of sickness. self-management of excessive tension (SMET) developed by Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana indicates that SMET interventions may have lot of benefits on psychological and emotional levels such as improved emotional competence, [17] and emotional quotient. [18]

Earlier researches have shown that yoga is beneficial in increasing positive affectivity and decreasing NA. [19],[20] In the study of temporal dynamics of the affect-creativity relationship, it is found that positive affect is directly proportional to the creativity of an individual. [21] Mindful yoga practice has reported greater appraisal of stress and greater frequency of coping. [22] Such employees may prevent themselves from getting into CWBs as a reaction to work stressors and may seek out other strategies to help cope with work stressors.

Yoga group have shown more resilient to stress and protect against stress-related deterioration of self-control as compared to control group. [15] Individuals who are higher in self-control are found to be able to refrain from acting on aggressive impulses because they have a capacity of altering, overriding, or manipulating aggression-related emotions. The study found that yoga helps to develop strong morals and healthy values. [23] Individuals with high moral values will be less involved in any kind of deviant behaviors.

Oxford University conducted a 10 week yoga intervention with prisoners and found that yoga can improve psychological wellbeing and mood among prisoners and results showed a positive effect on stress and their impulsive behaviors. [24] It is well-known fact that rate of mental issues reported by prisoners is always high in comparison to the issues reported by normal people and such high level of behavioral patterns are identified as the sign of aggression, distress, antisocial behavior, alcohol, and drug abuse within prisoners.

Yogic way of life can be preventive, which can provide improvements in many mental and physical health conditions and quality of life. It can also promote healthy working conditions especially if predictors of CWB are controlled by awareness and self-control of individual employees.

  Materials and Methods Top

Study population

Employees from a private firm participated in the study. In total, 160 employees (total males = 88, total females = 72) were randomly selected and allocated into two groups of equal size of 80 participants in each group. These groups were yoga group and physical exercise group. The inclusion criteria were:

  1. Working professionals (male/female) involved intentionally in CWB,
  2. <60 years of age, and
  3. Mentally and physically not disabled.
[Table 1] shows the demographic data. The mean age for the sample for yoga group was 28.29 (standard deviation [SD] = 5.21) years and for the control group was 27.20 (SD = 4.14) years. Gender distribution for yoga group was 46 males and 34 females wherein 42 males and 38 females in the control group.
Table 1: Baseline characteristics of study participants

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Study tools

Counterproductive workplace behavior

The CWB Checklist (CWB-C) by Spector et al. [25] was used that contains 45 item CWB-C, covering behavioral reactions of an individual. This scale contains two subscales such that scoring is possible on all items or as two subscales. These subscales are classified into CWB for individual and the organization. Responses of the participants were collected on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from "never" to "every day." For this study, the internal consistency with the present sample was 0.87 for baseline scores.

Data collection procedure

Only individuals who were currently working and employed were permitted to take part in this intervention. The respondents were administered the questionnaires with the help of investigator. Participants who fulfilled the inclusion and exclusion criteria and who willingly consented to participate in the study were allocated randomly into yoga group and control group. The yoga group practiced a yoga module that included asanas, pranayama, meditation, and yoga literature as theory session. The control group participants practiced mild to moderate physical exercises and were given management theory session. Both groups practiced their sessions for 1 hour daily, 5 days a week for 10 weeks. The confidentiality of the information found from the respondents was assured and informed consents of the participants were obtained.

Data analysis

Data analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) by IBM, version 21. The statistical tests used were paired samples t-test for the comparison of baseline and post comparison scores. Gender difference in CWB was measured in an independent t-test. ANCOVA was used for change score comparison of the two groups keeping baseline data as a covariate. The relationship between variables was investigated using Pearson correlation.

  Results Top

The relationship between demographic variables and CWB was investigated using Pearson correlation coefficient by taking baseline scores of both the groups [Table 2]. There was a strong, positive correlation between the gender and CWB variables, r = 0.34, n = 160, P < 0.001 (two-tailed). Age was negatively correlated with CWB.
Table 2: Correlations for study variables (n = 160)

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[Table 3] shows gender differences in CWB scores. There was significant difference in scores for males (mean = 76.18, SD = 9.22) and females (mean = 69.63, SD = 8.63); t (158) = −4.56, P < 0.001 (two-tailed), and Cohen's d = 0.12. This shows men reported engaging in higher levels of CWB than did women [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Gender mean difference in counterproductive work behavior scores

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Table 3: Gender differences in CWB scores

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A paired-samples t-test was conducted to evaluate the impact of the intervention on CWB [Table 4]. There was a statistically significant decrease in CWB scores of yoga group from before intervention (mean = 73.91, SD = 10.16) to after intervention (mean = 62.76, SD = 10.12), t (79) = 22.51, P < 0.001 (two-tailed). The mean decrease in CWB scores was 11.15. The eta squared statistic 0.87 indicated a large effect size. For control group, scores decreased from before intervention (mean = 72.61, SD = 8.81) to after intervention (mean = 67.20, SD = 9.59), t (79) = 14.38, P < 0.001 (two-tailed) [Figure 2]. The mean decrease in CWB scores was 5.41 which was much below than yoga group. The eta squared statistic 0.72 indicated a large effect size but less than yoga group.
Figure 2: Mean counterproductive work behavior scores at baseline and post-intervention

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Table 4: Results of CWB after the intervention in both the groups

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The effectiveness of two different interventions was compared by conducting a one-way between groups analysis of covariance. Participants' baseline scores administration of the CWB was used as the covariate in the current analysis. Preliminary checks were conducted to avoid any violation of the assumptions of normality, linearity, homogeneity of regression slopes, and homogeneity of variances. After adjusting for baseline scores, there was significant difference between the yoga and control groups on post intervention scores on the CWB, F (1, 157) = 83.44, P < 0.001, partial eta squared = 0.35.

  Discussion Top

Managing behavior of employees is a major concern for any organization. Researches on CWB have increased in last few years because every organization is exposed to the potential damages of CWB. CWB can have enormous costs and economic threat to employers annually. There is a direct cost associated with CWB such as sabotage and theft. As per the statistical survey in the United States, 42% of supermarket workers and 62% fast food restaurant workers reported cash or property theft. [26] It was found that employers incurred the cost of around $90 billion annually just by employee theft and other misconduct cases. [27] It is not only direct cost which is a matter of concern, but indirect costs such as performance and productivity loss, customer reputation loss, lowered quality, lost working time, and damage to interpersonal relation because of conflicts, and aggression are also associated. [28],[29] There are few studies conducted in India to understand the deviant behavior in the Indian context. One study examined the various interrelated causes and impact of CWB and it was reported that lateness of arrival at work impacted more compared to other behaviors. [30] In another study, it was illustrated that other than public and private sectors, even nonprofit organizations are also the target of various deviant behaviors. [31]

The results of the current trial showed that 10 weeks intervention of yoga resulted in significant reductions in CWB among a randomized group of working professionals. Yoga group showed better improvement towards controlling their negative behaviors in comparison with the control group. Moreover, the gender difference was observed in the case of level of involvement in CWBs and current findings are consistent in magnitude with prior workplace studies and meta-analyses. For example, Spector and Zhou, [9] and Bowling and Burns [32] found that men were more involved in CWB than women. These studies reported relatively stronger CWB relationships for men than for women. In the current study, age was negatively correlated with CWB and similar results were observed in the study conducted by Berry et al. [33]

CWB-C used in the current study is a reflection of behavioral reactions of an individual and it is clearly observed that yoga may help dealing with day to day events with an attitude of openness, acceptance, and non judgment. It may further help to have increased ability to cope with and at the same time remain calm in difficult work situations which can result into increased adaptability, and more positive relationships at work.

  Limitations and Directions for Future Research Top

The current study contained several limitations that may have affected the results. This study was limited in that data with self-reported dependent measures were used. More research is needed to establish the true directionality of the relationships between the variables explored in this study. Future studies could implement the longitudinal type of research to get detailed and refined conclusions on the benefits of yoga. It should be noted that most of the studies related to CWB have been undertaken by the Western scholars. Only a few studies on CWB were conducted by the Asian researchers. Therefore, further investigations, especially in the Asian context, are required for more empirical evidence on the effect of yoga on CWB.

  Conclusion Top

Despite these limitations, overall results of this study were statistically significant and positive. This study may provide a foundation for larger cost-effective trials of yoga sessions at the workplace, which could result in multiple benefits to both employees and employers. Employers can see the benefit of substantial savings by reduced CWB, and improved performance and productivity. On the other hand, employees can see the benefit in terms of physical and mental health improvements such as reduced stress, reduced aggression, improved quality of life, and increased positive affectivity. The strength of yoga is that it can be practiced at the workplace as a self-management technique where an employee does not need to visit anywhere outside. In summary, the present study has shown the effectiveness of yoga in reducing CWB significantly at the workplace.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

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