1. New insights into how employees manage stressful situations at work

    February 20, 2018 by Ashley

    From the University of East Anglia press release:

    Researchers have developed a new tool which could benefit organisations and their staff by assessing employees’ beliefs about how they manage challenging and stressful situations at work.

    Self-efficacy — the belief in one’s capabilities to achieve a goal or an outcome — is a key variable for understanding how people manage themselves and their behaviour at work, given its influence on motivation, well-being, and personal achievement and fulfilment.

    Employees must not only accomplish tasks but also manage their negative emotions as well as interpersonal relationships. Despite this, self-efficacy has mainly been assessed in relation to job tasks, not emotions and interpersonal aspects.

    This research aimed to fill the gap by developing and testing a new work self-efficacy scale to assess individuals’ perceived ability not only in managing tasks, but also negative emotions, being empathic and being assertive. It involved academics at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Business School, the Department of Psychology at Sapienza University of Rome, Uninettuno Telematic International University, and the Centre for Advances in Behavioural Science at Coventry University.

    Results from two studies, involving a total of 2892 Italian employees, provide evidence of the added value of a more comprehensive approach to the assessment of self-efficacy at work. They also suggest the new scale has practical implications for management and staff, for example in recruitment and appraisal processes, as well career development and training.

    The findings, published in Journal of Vocational Behavior, show that:

    • The more employees perceive themselves as able to manage their tasks and effectively fulfil their goals (task self-efficacy), the better they perform and the less they are likely to misbehave at work;
    • The more employees perceive themselves as able to manage their negative emotions in stressful and conflict situations (negative emotional self-efficacy), the less they report physical symptoms and the less they experience negative emotions in relation to their job;
    • The more employees perceive themselves as able to understand their colleagues’ moods and states (empathic self-efficacy), the more they are likely to go the extra mile in their working lives and help their colleagues.

    Co-author Dr Roberta Fida, lecturer in organisational behaviour at Norwich Business School, said: “Our results also showed that the more employees perceive themselves as capable of speaking up for their rights and ideas, what we call assertive self-efficacy, the more they seem to engage in counterproductive work behaviour targeting the organisation as a whole. This seems to suggest that assertive self-efficacy should be considered as a risk factor.

    “However, further analyses showed that reducing individuals to separate elements may obscure their complexity. Indeed, the results of this research showed the importance of considering the relationship between the different self-efficacy beliefs and how they combine with each other. This helps us to understand how individuals organise their capabilities to fulfil their goals and manage themselves in challenging and demanding situations.”

    In particular, the findings showed that when employees have high assertive self-efficacy along with high task, negative emotional and empathic self-efficacy, they actually did not show higher counterproductive work behaviour. On the contrary, they are those helping and going the extra-mile as well as those showing high well-being. The opposite is instead true for those employees with high empathic self-efficacy but low task, negative emotional and assertive self-efficacy.

    Results also showed that when employees have high task self-efficacy but they do not perceive themselves as able to manage negative emotions in stressful and conflictual situations, understand others’ needs and mood, or speak up for their rights and ideas, they undoubtedly perform well in their job but they ‘pay the price’ in terms of well-being.

    Dr Fida said: “By using the scale, management and Human Resources may gain an all-round understanding of their employees over the course of their career, and may assess and monitor individuals’ beliefs in relation to different self-regulatory capabilities.

    “For example, in the recruitment process, it may provide relevant information to understand how potential employees may adjust to the work environment. It can also be used in the appraisal system as a self-reflective tool.

    “In addition, it can provide relevant information for career development, and for training and vocational counselling. It may inform the design of tailored interventions aimed at promoting employees’ self-regulatory competences in ‘less trained’ self-regulatory capabilities.”


  2. Study suggests employees who work in open-plan offices feel worse and are more dissatisfied with their work

    February 1, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Karlstad University press release:

    It is becoming increasingly common for employees to share the workplace with their colleagues in large open-plan office areas. In this way, companies and organizations want to save money, but also facilitate the interaction between the employees. However, a new study from CTF, Service Research Center at Karlstad University, Sweden, shows the opposite. The more co-workers that share the workplace, the less satisfied the employees are, and the more difficult they think it is to have a good dialogue with their colleagues.

    Numerous private and public organizations have already adopted the concept of open-plan offices and many other companies are currently considering a switch from traditional cellular offices to such open layouts. Common arguments for investing in such open spaces are their claimed cost efficiency and flexible layout; their assumed ability to facilitate interaction among employees; and, ultimately, their presumed potential to improve work performance and productivity.

    In a new study researchers have investigated the associations between office type (cellular office, shared-room office, small open-plan office, and medium-sized open-plan office) and employees’ job satisfaction, well-being, and ease of interaction with co-workers.

    “The results show a negative relationship between the number of co-workers sharing an office and employees’ job satisfaction. This association was mediated by ease of interaction with co-workers and subjective wellbeing, with employees working in small and medium-sized open-plan offices reporting lower levels of both these aspects than employees who work either alone in cellular offices or together with up to two colleagues in shared-room offices,” says Ph D Tobias Otterbring and continues:

    “The open-plan offices may have short-term financial benefits, but these benefits may be substantially lower than the costs associated with decreased job satisfaction and wellbeing. Therefore, decision-makers should consider the impact of a given office type on employees rather than focusing solely on cost-effective office layout, flexibility, and productivity.”

    They study was recently published in Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. The article “The relationship between office type and job satisfaction: Testing a multiple mediation model though ease of interaction and well-being” is written by Tobias Otterbring, Jörg Pareigis and Erik Wästlund at CTF, Service Research Center at Karlstad University, Sweden, and Alexander Makrygiannis and Anton Lindström at Aarhus University, Denmark.


  3. Study looks at factors that drive collaboration

    January 28, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Ohio State University press release:

    The key to getting people to work together effectively could be giving them the flexibility to choose their collaborators and the comfort of working with established contacts, new research suggests.

    For starters, it’s important to recognize that cooperation between humans makes no sense, said David Melamed, an assistant professor of sociology at The Ohio State University and lead author of the study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “From an evolutionary perspective, cooperation shouldn’t exist between people — you always do better by not cooperating because then people can’t rip you off or take advantage of you,” Melamed said.

    “Especially in a one-time interaction, it’s essentially paying a cost for someone else to benefit, and researchers have been working for a long time to understand why people evolved to work together.”

    In this study, Melamed and his co-authors aimed to uncover what conditions led people to collaborate most willingly.

    To answer their questions, they found participants through the Amazon Mechanical Turk website — a service that allows researchers and others to hire or recruit people from around the world for a variety of purposes. For this study, all participants were from the United States.

    Those who agreed to participate played online games in which each player started out with 1,000 monetary units that translated to $1 in real money that they could pocket. If one player agreed to pay another player 50 monetary units, that second person would actually acquire 100 units.

    “So, if you essentially agreed to give up five cents, someone else gained 10 cents,” Melamed said.

    Each of the 16-round games examined in the study included about 25 participants, some of whom participated in multiple games with different scenarios. In all, 810 people participated in the research.

    Some of the games generated random networks, where certain people could interact. Others included clustered networks, in which a small group had multiple connections — an arrangement that was designed to mimic real life, where humans often run in packs socially and at work.

    And the networks were either static or dynamic. In static networks, a player could interact only with the assigned partners for the duration. In the dynamic networks, participants could cut ties with another player and form new connections.

    Furthermore, some of the games included reputation information. Participants were labeled based on their history of willingness to share money. The idea was to test whether those known to collaborate were favored by other players based on reputation — a factor shown in previous research to play a significant role in whether a person is likely to partner with another.

    Melamed and his research partners were surprised to find that reputation played no role in collaboration in this study. The findings might have departed from prior studies because of the difference in size and study design, he said, explaining that much of the previous work in this area has been conducted in groups of 100 or fewer and mostly involved student subjects. The Turk network used for the new study has been shown to be representative of the U.S. population in terms of age, race and other factors, Melamed said, and introduced players who had no previous connections.

    Collaboration rates overall were high — and highest when the participants were operating in clusters and had the ability to drop a partner in favor of another.

    “What really seems to matter is the ability to alter the structure of a network,” Melamed said. “And the pattern of relationships also made a difference. Those in a known cluster with multiple connections collaborated more, which seems intuitive if you think about how we interact in the real world.”

    The findings from this study could have important implications in a variety of settings, including the workplace and the battlefield, Melamed said.

    “Applying what we learned could help encourage cooperation,” he said.

    The U.S. Army, which supported the study, could use this type of information to better develop strong, cooperative teams in the field, Melamed said, adding that the armed forces could also use the science to seek ways to undermine enemy forces.


  4. Study suggests use of mobile devices at home can carry conflict to workplace

    January 16, 2018 by Ashley

    From the University of Texas at Arlington press release:

    A University of Texas at Arlington researcher is part of a team of authors who have found that using a mobile device at home for work purposes has negative implications for the employee’s work life and also their spouse.

    Wayne Crawford, assistant professor of management in UTA’s College of Business, was one of five authors on “Your Job Is Messing With Mine! The Impact of Mobile Device Use for Work During Family Time on the Spouse’s Work Life,” recently published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

    Dawn Carson, Baylor University; Meredith Thompson, Utah State University; and Wendy Boswell and Dwayne Whitten, Texas A&M University; also contributed to the study.

    In all, 344 married couples were surveyed. All participants worked fulltime and used mobile devices or tablets at home for work purposes.

    “There is plenty of research on technology and how it affects employees,” Crawford said. “We wanted to see if this technology use carried over to affect the spouse negatively at work.”

    The couples’ survey results showed that use of a mobile device during family time resulted in lower job satisfaction and lower job performance.

    “It’s really no surprise that conflict was created when a spouse is using a mobile device at home,” Crawford said. “They’re sometimes engaging in work activities during family time. What that ultimately leads to, though, is trouble at work for both spouses. So, whether companies care or don’t care about employees being plugged in, those firms need to know that the relationship tension created by their interaction with their employees during non-work hours ultimately leads to work-life trouble.”

    Abdul Rasheed, chair of the Department of Management, said Crawford’s work is illuminating for businesses.

    “That extra time spent on mobile devices after hours might not be worth it if the grief it causes results in productivity losses once the conflict is carried back to work,” Rasheed said. “Businesses have to think about accomplishing tasks more efficiently while people are at work.”


  5. Study suggests bargain hunting affects perceptions of customer service workers

    January 6, 2018 by Ashley

    From the University of British Columbia press release:

    Everyone loves a bargain, but new research suggests some employees may be getting short-changed when it comes to how consumers perceive them when they are price-conscious.

    The UBC Sauder School of Business study, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, found that bargain-hunters who adopt a “price-conscious mentality” — meaning their main goal is to save money and get the cheapest deal — tend to see employees who they interact with as less human.

    “When shoppers focus only on paying the lowest price, they become less attuned to understanding the human needs of others, or even recognizing them,” said Johannes Boegershausen, a UBC Sauder PhD student who co-authored the study.

    For the study, the researchers conducted several studies. One study showed that consumers used fewer humanizing trait words in reviews of the discount carrier Ryanair than in reviews of the higher-end airline Lufthansa, even after accounting for quality differences between brands.

    In another experiment, study participants were either shown photos of a flight attendant wearing uniforms from Ryanair, Lufthansa, or one wearing a neutral uniform. The researchers found that respondents saw the flight attendants from Lufthansa and the non-employee as relatively equally human, but the Ryanair employee was seen in a poorer light.

    “We simply varied the brand, and found that people ascribed lower capabilities for experiencing emotions and feelings to the Ryanair flight attendant,” said Boegershausen, adding that this subtle dehumanization can take many forms and is not necessarily intentional.

    Another experiment had participants interact in a live chat with a rude customer service representative. They were then given the chance to punish the employee through a complaint. The researchers found participants were 18 per cent more likely to give a rating that would lead to disciplinary actions against the employee when shoppers were adopting a price conscious mentality than when they were not.

    The researchers say the findings could have implications for owners and management of discount stores, as the problem could affect employee retention.

    Previous research has also found employees who experience rude and inconsiderate customer behaviors report higher levels of emotional exhaustion, job dissatisfaction, and burnout. Potentially, those unhappy employees subsequently might mistreat the next customer, who in turn gets angry and mistreats employees, creating a vicious circle for companies and employees alike.

    Since discount-based companies such as Walmart and Ryanair are experiencing unprecedented growth, it’s important to pinpoint what’s going on, said Boegershausen.

    “I think most consumers, myself included, are guilty of this at some point. When you really drill down, you don’t really recognize that someone is fully human anymore,” said Boegershausen. “But it doesn’t take much to be human and to let others know you recognize them as human. Everyone has the right to be considered human.”


  6. Study suggests bosses who ‘phone snub’ their employees risk losing trust, engagement

    January 2, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Baylor University press release:

    Supervisors who cannot tear themselves away from their smartphones while meeting with employees risk losing their employees’ trust and, ultimately, their engagement, according to new research from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.

    James A. Roberts, Ph.D., professor of marketing, and Meredith David, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, published their latest study — “Put Down Your Phone and Listen to Me: How Boss Phubbing Undermines the Psychological Conditions Necessary for Employee Engagement” — in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. Roberts and David are known nationally and internationally for researching the effects of smartphone use on relationships.

    Their newest study examines “boss phubbing” (boss phone snubbing), which the researchers define as “an employee’s perception that his or her supervisor is distracted by his or her smartphone when they are talking or in close proximity to each other” and how that activity affects the supervisor-employee relationship.

    “Our research reveals how a behavior as simple as using a cellphone in the workplace can ultimately undermine an employee’s success,” the researchers wrote. “We present evidence that boss phubbing lowers employees’ trust in their supervisors and ultimately leads to lower employee engagement.”

    The research is composed of three studies that surveyed 200, 95 and 118 respondents, respectively. Those 413 who were surveyed — representing both supervisors and employees — responded to statements that assessed the nature of their work, levels of trust and engagement. Examples of survey statements included: “My boss places his/her cellphone where I can see it when we are together,” “When my boss’ cellphone rings or beeps, he/she pulls it out even if we are in the middle of a conversation” and “I can rely on my supervisor to keep the promises he/she makes.”

    The study found:

    • 76 percent of those surveyed showed a lack of trust in a supervisor who phubbed them
    • 75 percent showed decreases in psychological meaningfulness, psychological availability and psychological safety
    • The lack of trust and decreases in those key areas led to a 5 percent decrease in employee engagement

    “Employees who experience boss phubbing and have lower levels of trust for their supervisor are less likely to feel that their work is valuable or conducive to their own professional growth, and employees who work under the supervision of an untrusted, phubbing supervisor tend to have lower confidence in their own ability to carry out their job,” David said. “Both of those things negatively impact engagement.”

    Roberts, who authored the book “Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?,” said this study offers significant managerial implications.

    “Phubbing is a harmful behavior,” he said. “It undermines any corporate culture based on respect for others. Thus, it is crucial that corporations create a culture embodied by care for one another.”

    David said employees and supervisors alike cannot be fully present in face-to-face interactions when distracted by their smartphones.

    “Developing the self-control to put away your smartphone in favor of meaningful, distraction-free interactions with your supervisor and other coworkers will yield benefits that far outweigh that text message, unread email or social media post,” she said.

    The study offered several steps that managers could take to change the culture and mitigate the negative effects of smartphone use.

    • Create a culture in which supervisors do not feel pressure to immediately respond to emails and messages from their superiors while meeting with their employees.
    • Structure performance criteria in a manner which motivates bosses to build healthy superior-subordinate relationships. This might include annual ratings by their subordinates.
    • Train supervisors and employees on the importance of face-to-face interactions and sensitize them to the potentially negative consequences of phubbing on employee attitudes and engagement.
    • Set formal smartphone policies by setting clear rules for smartphone use, access and security — and detail specific consequences for violating those rules.

    Roberts and David said as smartphones become more ubiquitous, researchers need to continue to study the implications in the workplace.

    “Given that smartphone use in the workplace is nearly universal and has become an integral mode of communication, it is crucial that researchers investigate the impact of smartphone use in the workplace on career choices and adjustment,” they wrote. “Today’s employees face the real possibility that, left unattended to, smartphone use may complicate their careers by undermining vocational adjustment and lowering their job engagement.”


  7. Study suggests blurring the boundaries between work and personal life can lead to exhaustion

    December 29, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Springer press release:

    In working life it’s now almost expected that employees answer work-related emails after hours, or take their laptops with them on holiday. But the blurring of boundaries between work and personal life can affect people’s sense of well-being and lead to exhaustion. This is according to Ariane Wepfer of the University of Zurich in Switzerland who, together with her colleagues, published a study in Springer’s Journal of Business and Psychology.

    Wepfer and her colleagues recruited 1916 employees from a broad range of sectors in German-speaking countries to take part in an online study. Most were married (70,3 percent) and their average age was 42.3 years. Half of the participants (50.1 percent) worked 40 hours or more per week, while 55.8 percent were men. They were asked how well they were able to manage the boundaries between their work and non-work lives, for instance, how often they took work home, how often they worked on weekends and how often they thought about work during their time off.

    Participants also indicated whether they made time to relax after work to socialize or to participate in sports and other hobbies, and how diligently they made sure that their work did not interfere with their private lives. To measure a person’s well-being, the researchers considered participants’ sense of physical and emotional exhaustion as well as their sense of balance between work and non-work.

    The researchers found that employees who did not organise a clear separation between work and free time were less likely to participate in activities that could help them relax and recover from career demands. They were therefore more exhausted and experienced a lower sense of balance and well-being in the different key aspects of their lives.

    Employees who integrated work into their non-work life reported being more exhausted because they recovered less,” Wepfer explains. “This lack of recovery activities furthermore explains why people who integrate their work into the rest of their lives have a lower sense of well-being.”

    Wepfer says that within the contexts of occupational health it is important to understand the findings, the mechanisms behind them and the factors that determine to what degree people are able to draw a line between their careers and their personal lives. She believes that companies should have policies and interventions in place to help their employees to segment different aspects of their lives better, to their own benefit.

    “Organizational policy and culture should be adjusted to help employees manage their work-non-work boundaries in a way that does not impair their well-being,” says Wepfer. “After all, impaired well-being goes hand in hand with reduced productivity and reduced creativity.”


  8. Study suggests being treated unfairly at work increases risk of long-term sick leave

    December 18, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of East Anglia press release:

    Staff who feel they are treated unfairly at work are at increased risk of being off sick more frequently and for longer, according to new research by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Stockholm University.

    Sickness absence is a major health concern for organisations and important contributing factors are found in the work environment. For example, low job control and decision-making opportunities have previously been shown to increase the likelihood of sick leave.

    A relatively new determinant of employee health is their perception of fairness in the work place, known as organisational justice. The new study, published today in BMC Public Health, focused on one element of this, called interactional justice, which relates to the treatment of employees by managers.

    Interactional justice itself can encompass informational justice — defined as receiving truthful and candid information with adequate justifications — and interpersonal justice, concerning respectful and dignified treatment by the manager.

    Using data from more than 19,000 employees in Sweden the researchers, from UEA’s Norwich Business School, the Stress Research Institute and Department of Psychology at Stockholm University, investigated the relationship between interpersonal and informational justice and long and frequent sickness absence. They also explored whether times of high uncertainty at work, for example perceived job insecurity, had an effect on sick leave.

    The team found that lower levels of justice at work relate both to an increase in shorter, but more frequent sickness absence periods, and to an increased risk of longer sickness absence episodes, irrespective of job insecurity and demographic variables of age, gender, socio-economic position and marital status. Also, higher levels of job insecurity turned out to be an important predictor of long and frequent sickness absence.

    Co-author Dr Constanze Eib, a lecturer in organisational behaviour at Norwich Business School, said: “While shorter, but more frequent periods of sickness absence might be a chance for the individual to get relief from high levels of strain or stress, long-term sickness absence might be a sign of more serious health problems.

    “Our results underline the need for fair and just treatment of employees irrespective of perceived job insecurity in order to keep the workforce healthy and to minimise lost work days due to sickness absence.”

    The study analysed data from participants in a long-term biennial survey — the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health (SLOSH) — that focuses on the association between work organisation, work environment and health. It used data from the 2010, 2012, and 2014 waves of the survey, with the final sample consisting of 58,479 observations from 19,493 employees.

    Lead author Dr Constanze Leineweber, from the Stress Research Institute, said: “Perceived fairness at work is a modifiable aspect of the work environment, as is job insecurity. Organisations have significant control over both and our results suggest that they may gain by investing or improving their policies and rules for fair treatment of their workforce and by improving job security.

    “Organisations might also gain from the selection of managers for their qualities associated with fair practices, training them in justice principles, and implementing performance management practices for them that consider their use of organisational justice. Indeed, training in justice principles has been shown to be successful in different organisational contexts.”


  9. Study looks at factors that make a happy working mom

    December 16, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Springer press release:

    A happy working mom feels competent in interacting with her child, experiences a sense of freedom and choice in her actions, while having a warm and affectionate relationship with her baby. She is also not too hard on herself about how she is faring as a mother. So says Katrijn Brenning of the University of Ghent in Belgium who led research that investigated what affects a working mother’s sense of well-being. The study is published in Springer’s Journal of Happiness Studies.

    Brenning and her colleagues showed that a mother’s sense of well-being drops when she feels inadequate, under pressure, and is alienated from her social circle by her efforts to get to work and be a good parent all at once. Her own baby’s temperament has little influence on her sense of well-being, but having a more extrovert child does help some women to feel more positive about motherhood, and to be less hard on themselves.

    “Our findings point to a complex interplay between parent and child characteristics in the prediction of maternal wellbeing,” says Brenning.

    The research team analyzed five days of diary entries made by 126 mothers after their maternity leave ended and they had to leave their babies at a day-care facility for the first time. This tends to be a particularly stressful episode in the life of working mothers because it is often the first time that they are separated from their children. With maternity leave over, they also need to learn how to balance their work and family lives effectively.

    Although the temperament of their children did not have much influence on the mothers’ sense of well-being, Brenning says: “More positive perceptions of the child’s temperament were found to buffer to some extent against the affective difficulties associated with a lack of need satisfaction, high need frustration and maternal self-criticism.”

    Brenning believes that in their interaction with their children, mothers should seek out experiences that also help to satisfy their own daily psychological needs. Mothers should not be too hard on themselves about how they are faring as a mother, search for activities with their baby that they enjoy, and create opportunities to spend with their offspring in a warm and affectionate way. The positive influence and energy this creates could be beneficial in that it allows mothers to interact with their child in a more sensitive, patient, and positive fashion.

    The researchers also believe that clinical counsellors should highlight to their female patients how important it is to ensure that their own psychological needs are met, amid the pressures of motherhood and work.

    Need frustration relates to daily distress and to more cold and intrusive parent-child interactions,” she says.

    The findings highlight how difficult it is for women whose personalities tend to veer towards the depressive and the self-critical to adjust to parenthood. Brenning therefore thinks that prevention and intervention strategies should be in place to help such women cope in their first few months of parenthood.


  10. Study suggests sexual harassment on the job still carries large impact

    December 15, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Texas at Arlington press release:

    Two University of Texas at Arlington researchers have revisited workplace sexual harassment issues after the initial study was done nearly 20 years ago.

    How well is society doing?

    The answer is mixed. Although there has been a 28 percent decline in complaints, sexual harassment is a continuing, chronic occupational health problem in the workplace.

    James Campbell Quick, the John and Judy Goolsby-Jacqualyn A. Fouse Endowed Chair in UTA’s Goolsby Leadership Academy, initially published the report in a 1998 special section on sexual harassment in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

    Quick and M. Ann McFadyen, a UTA associate professor of strategic management, conducted the review earlier this year. It comes at a time when noteworthy sexual harassment and assault incidents have permeated all aspects of American society.

    “Our current examination of the evidence suggests that sexual harassment is a continuing occupational problem,” Quick said. “Have we made progress? Yes, there has been progress on some fronts but not on others and the problem has morphed, becoming more complicated for a variety of reasons found in the current data.”

    Society and the workplace continue to struggle with the very definition of sexual harassment, which limits the ability to develop effective strategies in the workplace.

    Plus, McFadyen said that the workforce is changing.

    “Sexual harassment in the workplace is costly, not just to the organization,” McFadyen said. “The behavior impacts the victim, the aggressor, bystanders, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders in terms of tarnished reputations and trust, disengaged employees, decreased commitment, turnover, depression, stress, eating and other health disorders and in extreme cases bodily harm, even death.”

    She said that the recent publicity regarding sexual harassment is a signal of the beginning of a revolutionary change in the workplace demanding a different type of training.

    “Training not only for leaders and management but employees at all ranks, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders,” McFadyen said. “Successful leaders and management of organizations cannot afford to simply maintain the status quo.”

    Both believe that there is a real need from a public heath perspective to know more about the aggressors’ use of power in sexual harassment cases.

    The two professors believe that if the workplace is equipped with this information, surveillance indicators and systems can be put into place to address this preventable occupational health problem.

    Antonio Puente, the American Psychological Association president, used the Quick-McFadyen report in a letter to members last month.

    “Sexual harassment in the workplace is a significant occupational health psychology problem,” Puente said. “Psychological research has offered understanding into the causes of workplace harassment, as well as some strategies for preventing or reducing it. However, there is limited research regarding the characteristics of harassers, which makes it difficult to predict who will do it and where and when it might happen. What we do know is that harassers tend to lack a social conscience and engage in manipulative, immature, irresponsible and exploitative behaviors.”

    He said organizations need to be proactive in establishing policies prohibiting sexual harassment, raising employee awareness, establishing reporting procedures and educating employees about these policies.

    “More research is needed to identify the antecedents to harassment that will help employees and managers identify and respond appropriately,” Puentes said.