A new study has shed light on how employees react to the boorish behaviour of abusive bosses.
The study, conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, a professor of management at Florida State University, and research associate Samantha Engelhardt, has tried look at whether the inferior employees simply take what is dished out, or do they actively seek to change the situation.
The researchers examined the responses of more than 180 employees from a wide variety of professions, who reported supervisor abuse.
“Our goal was to isolate those who reported daily abuse from those who did not,” Hochwarter said.
The analysis showed that the differences between the two groups were shocking.<b1>
Thirty percent of those who reported abuse slowed down or purposely made errors, compared with 6 percent of those not reporting abuse.
Twenty-seven percent of those who reported maltreatment purposely hid from the boss, compared with 4 percent of those not reporting abuse.
The results also revealed that thirty-three percent of those who reported abuse confessed to not putting in maximum effort, compared with 9 percent of those not reporting abuse.
Hochwarter said among those who reported abuse, twenty-nine percent took sick time off even when not ill, as compared to 4 percent of those not reporting abuse.
Hochwarter and Engelhardt also found that those not reporting abuse were three times more likely to proactively fix problems, including perceived abuse, than those who reported mistreatment.
“The data do not allow us to definitively state if abuse leads to these reactions, or if managers are just responding to their subordinates’ less-than-stellar behaviour. However, it is clear that employee-employer relations are at one of the lowest points in history,” Hochwarter said.
He suggested that basic civility, including a commitment to active communication, might cure many workplace problems.
“Without communication, there can be no trust. And without trust, you’re going to have your share of employee-manager struggles,” he said.