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Bullying bosses may find employees work against them: Study

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sun, March 10, 2019  /  03:39 am
Bullying bosses may find employees work against them: Study

The study aims to find out why bosses make employees less inclined to show organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). (Shutterstock/File)

Employees acting out or sabotaging their own companies might be caused by bullying bosses, new research suggests.

For a study published in the Journal of Management, an international team of researchers explored the negative outcome of bullying behavior. It turned out that workers suffering under “abusive” supervision are more likely to sabotage their own workplace by purposefully messing up tasks, arriving late, taking excessively long breaks and putting in minimal effort, Newsweek reported. 

The researchers aimed to find out how some bosses made employees less inclined to show organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), or a commitment to the company outside of their contractual obligations. OCB could include activities like helping colleagues or volunteering for unusual work hours. Bullied workers, on the other hand, may tend to harm the organization by showing counterproductive work behavior (CWB).

Read also: Common behavior of the worst bosses

Conducted by researchers from Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in China, Renmin University of China and Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, the study analyzed 427 existing studies and concluded that employees tended to act out because of unfair treatment in the workplace or stress (which affects the ability to perform as expected).

According to study co-author Liu-Qin Yang, associate professor of industrial-organizational psychology at Portland State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, stress can be uncontrollable and result in not sleeping well, coming in late, taking longer breaks or disobeying instructions.

“But justice is more rational. Something isn´t fair, so you´re purposely not going to help other people, or when the boss asks if anyone can come in on a Saturday to work, you don´t volunteer,” Yang gave as an example.

Regularly training managers, introducing policies that tackle workplace injustice and helping workers deal with stress are some of the options for companies to address the issue.

Last year, a study published in the European Heart Journal explored how harsh practices could affect the wellbeing of employees. The analysis of 79,201 men and women between 18 and 65 years of age revealed that bullied workers were more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases. 

“Bullying and violence are common at workplaces, and those exposed to these stressors are at higher risk of [cardiovascular diseases],” the authors concluded. (sop/kes)

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