Workplace Bullying Affects Home Life

A recent study indicates that stress and tension caused by workplace bullying and other abusive working relationships finds its way home and has a direct impact on an employee’s partner. It can have a direct impact on their marital relationship, their children and their whole family.

These are the results from a Baylor University study published in the journal, Personnel Psychology in November. But there are various mitigating factors.  Employees who have more children at home and have a longer relationship will feel the impact of workplace bullying.

Workplace Bullying Affect Families

Familes are Affected by Bullying in the Office“These findings have important implications for organizations and their managers. The evidence highlights the need for organizations to send an unequivocal message to those in supervisory positions that these hostile and harmful behaviours will not be tolerated,” said Dawn Carlson, Ph.D., study author, professor of management and H. R. Gibson Chair of Organizational Development at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, Waco.

The research involved 280 full-time employees and partners. Most employees were male (57%) and had been on the job on average about five years.  The average age of the employees and partners were 36 years of age, had been in the relationship on average 10 years. Seventy-five percent had children at home.

These employees felt abuse and workplace bullying that included tantrums, rudeness, public criticism and inconsiderate action by a supervisor.

Less Positive Interactions

“It may be that as supervisor abuse heightens tension in the relationship, the employee is less motivated or able to engage in positive interactions with the partner and other family members,” said Merideth Ferguson, PH.D., study co-author and assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at Baylor.

Organizations should encourage subordinates to seek support through their organization’s employee assistance program or other resources (e.g., counselling, stress management) so that the employee can identify tactics or mechanisms for buffering the effect of abuse on the family, according to the study.

“Employers must take steps to prevent or stop the abuse and also to provide opportunities for subordinates to effectively manage the fallout of abuse and keep it from affecting their families. Abusive supervision is a workplace reality and this research expands our understanding of how this stressor plays out in the employee’s life beyond the workplace,” Carlson said.

As an interesting footnote, the Workplace Bullying Institute found in a 2000 online study that women spouses sustained their relationships with husbands who suffer workplace bullying longer than husbands stayed with wives who suffer workplace bullying.




Photos: © Creative Commons
Adam Pieniazek
Mr Phil Price

Graphic Design: SHunt Sound Development

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