Employees Reluctant to leave a Hostile Work Environment

May 18, 2009

She never gets invited to lunch at the office and he gets publicly criticized for his mistakes, but neither of these employees is likely to leave their jobs in such a hostile work environment according to research from Kansas State University.

Almost half of employees who experience hostile work environments have no plans to leave, revealed a study from Meridith Selden, a Kansas State University psychology graduate, and her advisor, Ron Downey, a professor of psychology at the same university.

This research also took place before the economic downturn.

“They might like the job, just not certain elements of it,” said Downey. “That really surprised us, that people weren’t ready to jump ship. We talk about the new workplace where people don’t stay at the same job forever, but getting a job is difficult and people don’t like to do it.”

Hostile work environment behaviors that were asked of employees included: being reprimanded in front of others, being gossiped about, having your contributions ignored or being excluded from coffee breaks.

The researchers point out that this type of behavior leads to stress and burnout at work, which can ultimately cause an employee to leave their job.

Some employers have specialized staff to deal with these types of instances, but Downey states that by the time it gets to them, the situation has probably gotten way out of control.