breaking news

U.S. women's hockey team wins Olympic gold

Workplace incivility, aggression impacts more than half of US workers

What’s causing so much unhappiness at work for more than half of American workers? Incivility and aggression in the workplace, according to a new study.

Nearly 55 percent of workers say they’ve faced “unpleasant or potentially hazardous” conditions at work, according to a new study by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles. The study of more than 3,000 workers in the U.S. found that many workers feel they’ve faced sexual harassment, bullying and hostile environments in the workforce.

“I was surprised how taxing the workplace appears to be, both for less-educated and for more-educated workers,” said lead author Nicole Maestas, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and an adjunct economist at RAND. “Work is taxing at the office and it’s taxing when it spills out of the workplace into people’s family lives.”

» RELATED: Employers less likely to hire applicants with no social media presence

No matter the position or education of the employee, most are unhappy with their current work environment. While workers without a college education report greater physical demands, many college-educated and older workers are affected in different ways, according to the study.

Only about 38 percent of people say their jobs offer opportunities for advancement, and older employees become less optimistic about job advancement. Half of the workers in the study say they work in their off time to meet the demands of their position.

Chris Kershner of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce said his organization’s Leadership Dayton program teaches participants about the important of embracing “an environment where people feel they can share who they are, what they believe in without fear of repercussions. They have to feel they give and will receive respect and appreciation.”

» INVESTIGATION: Workplace deaths don’t always lead to hefty fines

Kershner said when employers appreciate and respect diverse views and backgrounds, they’re able to attract and create an environment with workers of diverse opinions.

“Having safety in the workplace, having civility in the workplace is critical for employers,” he said. “Employees who feel more respected and appreciated for who they are have a lot to offer. When you have a project and you’re able to see the impact from different viewpoints, it gives you a better output.”

The impacts of hostile environments vary depending on age and gender too, the study found. Younger and prime-aged women are the workers most likely to experience unwanted sexual attention, while younger men are more likely to experience verbal abuse.

Wright State University professor Nathan Bowling, who studies workplace aggression, said exposure to the negative behavior can even result in physical issues like stomach pain, headaches, sleep issues, depression and anxiety. Workplace aggression — which refers to mistreatment at work — can vary from more passive acts like incivility to aggressive, physical threats and abuse, he said.

» INVESTIGATION: Partial pipe replacements may be tainting drinking water

Workplace aggression can permeate an entire work culture, causing victims to lash out back at their perpetrator or even other co-workers. Bowling said it also causes an increase in worker absence and turnover rates, impacts employees performance levels and results in productivity loss for companies.

“More can be done to actively prevent aggressive workplaces and promote cultures of respect and civility,” his book states. “Although one might argue that incivility’s low intensity is not problematic, if an organization condones such behavior or does not actively condemn such behavior, it might indicate to employees that other, more extreme forms of aggression are acceptable.”

Experts say one resolution to increased hostility in the workplace is reclaiming civility. And it’s about more than just politeness, according to the Institute for Civility in Government. To practice civility, workers have to stay present “even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements.”

“Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary first step. It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same,” according to the institute.

Bowling said employers have to create — and enforce — clear policies on what’s acceptable behavior. Though aggression and incivility has always existed in the workplace, Bowling said the popularity of social media makes aggressive behavior much more apparent. He said high-profile examples of bullying and incivility can normalize behavior that negatively damages communities.

“Those people are role models, and this starts to look normal,” he said. “People start to think, ‘This is acceptable. Why don’t I do it?”


54 percent of workers report working the same number of hours on a day-to-day basis

Two-thirds of workers experience some degree of mismatch between their desired and actual working conditions

38 percent of workers say their job offers good prospects for advancement

Source: Rand Corp.


• New store opens at The Greene in Beavercreek

• Itchy eyes? You’re not alone. It’s hay fever season in Southwest Ohio

• Is this the future of air travel? Pilotless planes to be ready by 2025

• You can live in this refurbished, historic church in Oregon District

• 9 recent changes that are revolutionizing the local retail industry

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

This local comic shop just expanded to take over 3 storefronts
This local comic shop just expanded to take over 3 storefronts

A local comic book and game store has gotten a much-needed makeover. Bell Book and Comic, which has been located at 458 Patterson Road in Patterson Park Plaza for nearly 15 years, recently expanded into a third space.  The shop had already annexed another storefront two doors down in 2011 and was using that space as a gaming area.  ...
Wearables get smaller and smarter
Wearables get smaller and smarter

First there were fitness wearables. Then the focus turned to fashionable wearables. The latest evolution, seen throughout this year’s CES in Las Vegas: more functional, futuristic — and sometimes far-fetched — wearables. Wrist-worn wearables were a huge hit at the trade show four years ago, as tech makers showed off fitness trackers...
Skratch app helps busy teens find jobs in their neighborhoods
Skratch app helps busy teens find jobs in their neighborhoods

Miranda Alfaro said she’s had a difficult time finding a part-time job that fits her busy academic schedule. The 16-year-old plays the viola in Plano West High School’s orchestra and is a member of the school’s color guard, winter guard, National Honor Society chapter, and speech and debate teams. Skratch, a mobile app on her iPhone...
Otronicon gives Orlando kids glimpse at newest in local tech
Otronicon gives Orlando kids glimpse at newest in local tech

Nehemiah Thomas spent part of the day in his own virtual world along with his friends Woody and Buzz Lightyear. The 8-year-old swayed, raised his arms and smiled as a virtual reality-based roller coaster took him through parts of the Toy Story world. It was one of the first times the boy had tried the technology. “It’s a new way for these...
‘Gorogoa’ is as much a work of art as it is a puzzle game
‘Gorogoa’ is as much a work of art as it is a puzzle game

Part of what makes a good puzzle game is the inevitable “ah-ha” moment, the sense of accomplishment you get as you fit all the pieces together. “Gorogoa” is replete with these satisfying moments, enhanced by gorgeous hand-drawn visuals that pull you into its surreal world. “Gorogoa” is a tile-based puzzle game developed...
More Stories