Caustic Work Environments Bite

It’s amazing how employers can mess with their past and current employees.  Employers blame the employees, but in reality, those who inflict harm in the workplace – and the employers who turn their head – are the ones who will suffer long-term.  Hopefully the employee can reverse the significant harm it does to their health.  However, in the end, time will make things far worse for all who have inflicted hellish behaviors and actions.  Karma does not forget.

Many employers and employees go through turbulent times. However, it seems like caustic work environments within the U.S. are becoming common practice. It’s amazing.

Layoffs alone can have detrimental impacts.  Duke University discovered that when 1% of a state’s workforce loses employment, there is a correlated 2-3% increase in suicidal behaviors of girls and black teens.  Sullivan and von Wachter found that “job displacement leads to a 15-20% increase in death rates during the following 20 years.”

Caustic work environments are deadly – not only to the employee but to the organization.  Work can be stressful, but stress related to caustic work environments  wreaks havoc.  According to a report made by CCR International, in 2005, the cost associated to lost work time because of high stress levels was estimated to be approximately $1.7 billion.  If a supervisor is considered “sensitive,” an average of 3.7 days of work were missed.  However, if a supervisor was considered to be “non-sensitive” the average days of missed work was 6.2 (according to a Canadian study in 1999).

The following are symptoms CCR International identified that is related to conflict at work.  According to medical research, each of these are detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the individual which means increasing cost incurred on individual, corporate, community, and national levels.  Here is what was listed as the result of workplace discord:

  • Stress, frustration, and anxiety
  • Loss of sleep
  • Strained relationships
  • Grievances and litigation
  • Presenteeism
  • Employee turnover
  • Loss of productivity
  • Increased client complaints
  • Absenteeism
  • Sabotage
  • Injury and accidents
  • Disability claims
  • Sick leave

Someone was telling me that there is an organization where individuals are quitting right and left.  Some had been there for many years. A couple of employees had worked there for two working lifetimes. One quit after being told to switch desks. It seems like such a minute issue, but there are so many underlying implications, words, and actions that go along with that situation that the organization lost out – although the employer and/or manager believes it had won.

One person I know well is continually being victimized by a past employer. It’s fascinating yet highly annoying to her. Tapped phones, zero retirement funds (they reversed what little was in there and re-fed the balance into the company’s account due to a supposed low balance), negative references to future employers without valid cause.  It’s amazing.  While she was working there, significant health problems arose.  It’s taken her months to recover.  

A chiropractor said that in her practice she noted that “it used to take one or two weeks, then one month, then two, and now three months to recover from a past job.”  The CDC reports that “in 1999, nearly 1 million people took time away from work to treat and recover from work-related musculoskeletal pain or impairment of function in the low back or upper extremities”  The estimated cost of work-related musculoskeletal disorders is somewhere between $45 and $54 billion each year (as calculated by the Institute in Medicine).

I love this quote: “It’s difficult to directly make the argument that engagement causes higher financial performance because when people are engaged, they don’t just immediately make profit. They show up for work, they please customers, they build a safer environment, they produce higher quality products — and those things accumulate to affect financial performance.”  I could just give Dr. Harter a hug.

Love what this article shares as well:

“Whether we looked at entrepreneurial startups or large, established enterprises, the same holds true: People are more productive and creative when they have more positive emotions. In fact, we found that, if happier on a given day, people were not only more likely to come up with a new idea or solve a complex problem that same day but also to do so the next day….

We can all think of creative geniuses tortured by depression (e.g., Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf), and many managers still believe stress and fear are the best ways to keep workers cracking. But if you pay careful attention to the data, rather than anecdotes and intuition, you’ll find it’s clear that happiness boosts performance.”

All I can say is that caustic behaviors and actions bite the employers – and the nation – more than is realized.  The costs that incur due to a bad work environment is detrimental on many levels.   The corporation can place blame on the individual, in yet the true source of responsibility most often comes from the corporation itself.

Let’s see what we can do to change negative into positive.  Let’s choose positive employers to work for and let negative  workplace environments find its own detriment.  Let’s live longer – and let our children live longer – by working in positive work environments.


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