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'Desk rage' bad for productivity, health

October 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Abuse at the office leaves many feeling hopeless. And chances are, if you work with others, you could be the target of on-the-job anger during your career. According to a new survey, 37 percent of workers are mistreated at work. Bullies and temper tantrums -- it might sound like something you'd expect to find on a playground. But more and more, that disturbing behavior is cropping up at offices across the country. We heard from several workers who say they've dealt with more than their share of desk rage.

As an events coordinator, negative comments, public ridicule and being the focus of temper tantrums made it difficult.

Fifty-four-million people say they have been a victim of office abuse. A recent survey found 42 percent of people said there was yelling in their office. Twenty-three percent were driven to tears and 10 percent said employees had actually resorted to physical violence. Types of childish behavior can affect the bottom line.

"You're going to have turnover, you're going to have people who are not going to want to join the organization," said Carol Hull, performance improvement coach.

Carol Hull works with companies to help promote a healthy working environment. She's seen firsthand what goes on.

"It was a boss of mine ... pound on the table, stomp her feet, pull her hair, it was screaming at the top of her lungs at me," said Hull.

For 45 percent of workers these tirades, backstabbing and even assaults can cause some serious health problems -- including cardiovascular issues, an impaired immune system, debilitating anxiety, even post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I would just get sick. I would go and throw up," said Miriam Denton, victim of office abuse.

Office manager Patricia Sardella knows how Miriam felt. She says a fellow employee sabotaged her work.

"She would undermine my work," said Patricia Sardella, victim of office abuse

Carol says organizations need to develop a zero-tolerance policy for bullying or temper tantrums. If your company won't, your best option may be to do what Patricia and Mariam both did -- they quit.

New research from Queens University in Ontario shows that workplace bullying is hurting employees more than sexual harassment, causing more job stress, less job commitment and higher levels of anxiety.

 

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