Working in a place where you are not appreciated is never fun. A recent study shows that being treated badly at work, particularly being targeted with aggression, can do damage to the entire organization. The University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, with colleagues from universities in England, the United States, and Italy, studied hundreds of nurses who were asked about experiences of workplace aggression, negative emotions, and health symptoms. The study also investigated nurses engaged in counterproductive work behaviors.
Nurses can experience a host of aggressions from three separate groups. Co-workers and managers may harass the nurse in the form of sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, and unfair work practices. Aggression can also come from patients and their relatives. Whereas doctors are seldom with patients, nurses are on the front lines where upset patients and their families become aggressive.
Mistreatment Triggered Responses
The study found that frequent mistreatment at work can trigger emotional responses of anger, fear, and sadness. The consequences and strategies for managing emotions differed. All emotional responses were found to be associated with health symptoms. Although the response to sadness was not associated with misconduct, the responses to fear and anger included changes in behavior at work.
Examples of misconduct offered in the study included counterproductive behaviors, such as insulting a colleague or stealing something belonging to an employer. The study also mentioned clinical misbehavior relating to restraining patients and modifying prescriptions without consulting doctors. The study found that fear and anger arising from being a target of aggression were correlated with misconduct at work. Participants in the study reported that both counterproductive behavior, as well as clinical misbehavior, occurred as a response to workplace aggression.
Clinical misbehavior is an example of moral disengagement. This is a set of cognitive mechanisms that temporarily silence a person’s moral standards, allowing them to engage in conduct they consider wrong. According to the lead researcher, the findings provided further evidence that being a target of aggression represents a frustrating situation where victims experience anger that may prompt an aggressive response. This means there are consequences not only for the direct victim of aggression, but for the entire organizational system.
It is important to recognize and avoid workplace aggression and to make employees aware of the connection between emotions and dysfunctional responses. More importantly, promoting an ethical culture at work is vital for every workplace. Employers should be proactive in stopping workplace harassment by designing and implementing interventions to effectively deal with threatening and hostile interactions. The consequences affect not only the employee being harassed but the entire organization and even the people they serve as well.
Philadelphia Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Victims of Discrimination in the Workplace
If you have been harassed or discriminated against at work, a Philadelphia discrimination lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. can help. We will evaluate your case starting with a free confidential consultation. Call us at 215-569-1999 or complete our online form. We are in Philadelphia, and we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas, including Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.