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Bullying more harmful than sexual harassment.

Although both bullying and sexual harassment can create negative work environments and unhealthy consequences for employees, workplace aggression has more severe consequences, according to two Canadian researchers.

Sandy Hershcovis of the University of Manitoba and Julian Barling of Queen's University in Ontario reviewed 110 studies conducted over 21 years that examined the consequences of employees' experiences with sexual harassment and workplace aggression. Specifically, the authors looked at effects on job satisfaction, stress, anger and anxiety levels, mental and physical health, and job turnover.

The authors distinguished among three forms of workplace aggression:

* Incivility, which included rudeness and discourteous verbal and non-verbal behaviors;

* Bullying, which included persistently criticizing employees' work; yelling; repeatedly reminding employees of mistakes; spreading gossip or lies; ignoring or excluding workers; and insulting employees' habits, attitudes, or private life; and

* Interpersonal conflict, which included behaviors that involved hostility, verbal aggression, and angry exchanges.

Employees who experienced bullying, incivility, or interpersonal conflict were more likely to quit their jobs, have lower well-being, be less satisfied with their jobs, and have less satisfying relations with their bosses than employees who were sexually harassed. Furthermore, bullied employees reported more job stress, less job commitment, and higher levels of anger and anxiety.

The study findings were presented at the Seventh International Conference on Work, Stress and Health, co-sponsored by the American Psychological Association, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology

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Publication:The Journal of Employee Assistance
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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