Workplace stress – we are taking it home with us

Workplace stress – we are taking it home with us

By Liz Lockhart

We all know just how stressful it can get at work.  Heavy workloads, long hours and occasional rudeness from co-workers can all contribute to exhaustion and feelings of stress at the end of the day.

According to new research it is this rudeness that we take home with us and the feelings of stress created from such incivility can be so intense that we cannot leave the feelings in the workplace.

The new study comes from Dr. Merideth Ferguson, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at Baylor University.  The stress caused by rudeness at work has been shown to affect the well-being of the worker’s family and partner, who in turn takes the stress to his or her workplace.

‘Employees who experience such incivility at work bring home the stress, negative emotion and perceived ostracism that results from those experiences, which then affects more than their family life.  It also creates problems for the partner’s life at work’ says the researcher.

‘This research underlines the importance of stopping incivility before it starts so that the ripple effect of incivility does not impact the employee’s family and potentially inflict further damage beyond the workplace where the incivility took place and cross over into the workplace of the partner,’ Dr. Ferguson said.

A partner is also more likely to take on more of the responsibilities of the family when their other half comes home more stressed and distracted.  These demands can interfere with the partner’s work life too.

Also found in the study is that such stress cal also significantly affect the worker’s and the partner’s marital satisfaction.

190 workers and their partners were involved in the study.  The workers were employed full time, had co-workers and had an employed partner who agreed to complete an online survey.  The workers were asked to complete the survey and then ask their partners to complete a separate survey.

 ‘Unlike the study of incivility’s effects at work, the study of its impact on the family is in its infancy. However, these findings emphasize the notion that organisations must realise the far-reaching effects of co-worker incivility and its impact on employees and their families,’ Ferguson said.

‘One approach to prevent this stress might be to encourage workers to seek support through their organization’s employee assistance program or other resources such as counselling or stress management so that tactics or mechanisms for buffering the effect of incivility’s stress on the family can be identified,’ she concluded.

The study was published online in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour.

Source: Baylor University 

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