Abuse of work today
The Foundation for the Study of Work Trauma defines workplace abuse as “all situations where one or more persons is subjected to prolonged, persistent psychological pressure, negative behavior or actions from another employee(s), affecting the target’s dignity, health, safety, work performance and/or happiness at the workplace.
How people abuse work today
The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration defines workplace violence as an act or threat of physical harm against another person at the work site. Abusers might physically assault their victims or use verbal abuse to intimidate them.
Workplace violence can lead to homicide, which is the fourth leading cause of occupational injuries in the U.S., according to OSHA. The agency also reports that violence leading to homicide takes the lives of women in the workplace more than any other cause.
Factors that put workers at risk for violence include working alone, at night or in isolated areas. Cashiers and others who exchange money with the public also are at high risk for violence. Law enforcement agents, delivery drivers, health care workers and public and customer service personnel are routinely victims.
Workplace bullying ranges from isolating to verbally threatening fellow workers. Bullies can cause anxiety, depression, fear and post-traumatic disorder symptoms in their victims.
A person who threatens a coworker with physical harm is considered a typical bully. However, the supervisor who regularly demeans an employee or threatens to fire him also is a bully.
Bullies sometimes ignore their victims to make them feel nonexistent. Bullies also use other tactics to humiliate their victims, such as gossiping and spreading lies about them or sabotaging their work.
Discriminatory behavior treats workers unfairly on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age or genetic information. Discrimination is prohibited by federal and state laws. Unfair actions include harassment, retaliation, denying employment opportunities and making decisions that adversely affect people in these categories. Anti-discrimination laws cover all areas of employment, ranging from hiring and firing, to pay, disability leave, training and layoffs.
The effects of discrimination can be emotional, physical and social. Depression, a loss of self-confidence, anxiety and feelings of helplessness are emotional effects. High blood pressure, headaches, ulcers, weight loss and sleeplessness are physical effects. Socially, discrimination leads to lower productivity, poor performance, withdrawal from fellow workers and occasionally violence.
Harassment consists of actions or comments that a worker finds offensive. The worker doesn’t have to be the harasser’s target; he can be a third party who hears or witnesses the behavior. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment becomes unlawful when it’s so severe that it creates a hostile workplace for an employee or the employee has to put up with the misconduct to keep her job.
Bullying, discrimination and violence often are categorized as workplace harassment. Therefore, harassment victims suffer the same emotional, physical and social effects as the other forms of workplace abuse.
Why people abuse work today
- Unrealistic performance expectations – Many companies take the “do more with less” challenge to a ridiculous level. “The pressure is on the workers to perform, work long hours or find themselves in the land of the unemployed. In the quest to be indispensable, the dignity and rights of others are ceded,” Marias-Steinman suggests.
- Cruel people – Mean people can poison the overall atmosphere. “Let’s face it, some people believe the only way to lift themselves up is on the backs of others,” explains Bob Rosner, author of Working Wounded: Advice That Adds Insight to Injury.
- Competition – Organizational communication professor Bill Gordon says, “Individuals, like animals, fight for survival and territory. They are both altruistic and seeking personal advantage.” Competition is often fostered by performance appraisal and rating systems that create selfishness and jealousy.
- Unresolved anger – Jones suggests that as a culture, we do a poor job of socializing our children; we teach them that being good at home/school will lead to a good life at work. Later, they discover this isn’t always the case and become disillusioned and angry. This anger eventually erupts “usually in the presence of a person deemed to be inferior.’ If the target does nothing to challenge the abuse, a norm has just been established in that relationship,” Jones offers.
- Poor Management – “Corporations create abusive environments through low moral standards, lack of stimulating tasks, inadequate training, and neglecting to provide open communication,” Marias-Steinman explains.
Solutions to work abuse
Envisionworks has developed a tool to measure the level of bad behavior present within an organization called the Organizational Civility Index (OCI). The OCI allows employees to make their organization aware of potential problems and gives the employer a constructive way to address the situation.
University of North Carolina management professor Christine Pearson offers some suggestions to managers interested in avoiding workplace abuse among their staff:
| Heed warning signals of incivility (high turnover,
poor morale), recognizing that the instigator can be cunning.
Recognize that abuse affects not only the targets, but also bystanders
and those who hear about it.
| Punish the messenger who reports the incident.
Make excuses for powerful people.
Make excuses to evade a “sticky” problem.
Look the other way regarding a bully’s actions.
Transfer employees who should be fired.
Management must confront workplace abuse and take steps to bring this “dirty secret” into the spotlight. Jones reminds managers that employees are afraid to bring up a sensitive issue like abusive behavior in front of management. “If you really want to manage smarter, start by acknowledging that abusive behavior is a problem in your workplace. Let people know that you’d like to work with them to identify and discipline those who abuse others,” he suggests.
Naturally, it takes more than awareness. Action is critical. An enforced code of conduct and swift investigations following reports of workplace abuse are both imperative steps. Most importantly, management plays a key role in deterring and resolving workplace abuse. According to Bruce Tulgan, author of Winning the Talent Wars, managers must be fully engaged with every employee through continual coaching, thus creating a level of trust that allows employees to confide in managers when they feel they are subject to abuse. Personal involvement of this nature allows the manager to identify symptoms. Further, it gives managers insight on the actual abusers that will allow them to evaluate whether the abuse is limited or extensive, requiring remedial measures or removal.
Careers and their choice
Factors influencing the choice of a career
Several things come to mind immediately when we think about our choice of career-training, required education, job description, and salary and career outlook. There are many other factors that will influence your decision, as well. Let’s explore some of the multiple theories of career development and this include;
Abilities and Skills:
In one of the earliest fields of career development, Trait Factor theory, considering your abilities and skills, as well as how they will fit a certain occupation often comes out and is still used today. It is recommended by these theories to create occupational profiles for specific jobs, as well as identifying the difference among individuals and based on these differences, matching them to occupations. There are many formal assessments online, including the Skills Provider at CareerOneStop in which you can identify activities you have a certain level of competency you enjoy.
Personality Type and Interest:
A widely used theory used to connect career fields and personality types is Holland’s Career Typology. This type of theory establishes a system of classification that matches personal preferences and personality characteristics to job characteristics. The Holland Codes are six types of personality and career that helps to describe a wide range of characteristics of jobs. You can receive your lists of related occupations and find out your Code by completing a questionnaire provided by O*Net Interest Profiler.
A worker is just one of your roles in life, as well as a parent, child and student. The theory that addresses directly the fact that we each play multiple roles that change over time is called the Super’s Lifespan Theory. How we think about ourselves in these different roles and the requirements of them, as well as the external forces that may affect them, may influence the way we look at careers in general and also how we make certain choices for ourselves.
Two theories that address factors related to our experiences with others in work situations previously are Planned Happenstance and Krumboltz’s Social Learning theories. Having certain positive role models and experiences in specific careers can influence the career sets we consider as options for ourselves. One aspect of the Social Cognitive Career theory that addresses that we are likely to decide to continue a particular task that you had previously had a good experience doing. This is a great idea so you focus on areas with proven success and positive self-esteem.
Culture and ethnic and racial background of the person’s regional area, extended family and local community are factors that may impact decisions of career. Our expectations and values are often shaped by our culture, as they relate to multiple parts of our lives, including careers and jobs. A specialized field that has emerged in multicultural career counseling takes into consideration theses influences when counseling students and clients. Having awareness of the expectations and values of our culture just might help us understand how we as individuals make career choices, however, we cannot attribute to any one individual predominate cultural characteristics.
Men and women experience stereotypes that are career-related. Social Learning, as well as multicultural career counseling are approached based on factors of gender. How we individually view ourselves can influence both the barriers and opportunities we believe as we choose our career. As roles of women and men evolve in the workplace, studies are ongoing of career development and gender.
Economic and Social Conditions:
Our career choices always take place in the context of the economy and society. Many career theories, such as Social Learning and Social Cognitive Career Theory address this context, along with many other factors. Certain events that take place during our lives may affect available choices for us and can even dictate choices to a certain degree. Resulting job market and economy changes may also affect career development..
Fantasies of Childhood:
What would you like to be when you grow up? I am confident that you remember this question from your younger years and it might have even shaped how you thought about careers then and how you think about them now. Career Counseling theories are growing as career choice related programs are developed for all ages, even the very young. A theory that describes three career development related life stages was proposed by Ginzberg. As early as age 11, fantasy, the first stage is where early career ideas are formed.