Office bullying more damaging than sexual harassment: study

March 9th, 2008 - 1:21 pm ICT by admin  


Toronto, March 9 (IANS) Bullying at the office, comprising negative behaviour like belittling comments, persistent criticism or withholding of resources, is apparently more damaging than sexual harassment, says a new study. Both bullying and sexual harassment can create negative work environments and unhealthy consequences for employees, but the researchers found that aggression had more severe consequences.

Employees who experienced bullying, lack of civility or interpersonal conflict were more likely to quit their jobs, have lower well-being, be less satisfied with their work and have less satisfying relations with their bosses than employees who were sexually harassed, the researchers found.

The findings of the study were presented Saturday at the Seventh International Conference on Work, Stress and Health, co-sponsored by the American Psychological Association, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology.

Besides, bullied employees reported more job stress, less commitment and higher levels of anger and anxiety. No differences were found between employees experiencing either type of mistreatment on how satisfied they were with their co-workers or with their work.

M. Sandy Hershcovis of University of Manitoba and Julian Barling of Queen’s University, Ontario, who co-authored the study, reviewed 110 studies conducted over 21 years that compared the consequences of employees’ experience of sexual harassment and workplace aggression.

“As sexual harassment becomes less acceptable in society, organisations may be more attuned to helping victims, who may therefore find it easier to cope,” said Hershcovis.

Bullying included persistently criticising an employee’s work; yelling; repeatedly reminding the employee of mistakes; spreading gossip or lies; ignoring or excluding a worker; and insulting an employee’s habits, attitudes or private life.

“Bullying is often more subtle,” said Hershcovis. “For instance, how does an employee report to their boss that they have been excluded from lunch? Or that they are being ignored by a co-worker?”

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