Abusive bosses can make employees counter-productive

New York, Oct 8 (IANS) Employees who are verbally abused by supervisors are more likely to "act out" at work - doing everything from taking a too-long lunch break to stealing, says a new study.

"Even if the abuse is meant to be motivational, the abused employees are still more likely to engage in counter-productive work behaviours," said Kevin Eschleman, assistant professor of psychology at the San Francisco State University.

The fallout from this abuse is not limited to the supervisor and employee and can, in fact, affect an entire company if it leads to lost work time or theft, Eschleman warned.

"We did not just focus on how these workers felt or whether they started to dislike their jobs more. We looked at consequences that actually affect the bottom line of an organisation," he pointed out.

The study included work data from 268 full-time employees selected from an online survey of more than 80,000 people.

The employees held a variety of jobs and had an average of nine years at their positions.

Workers were asked how often their supervisors "put them down" or ridiculed them.

The researchers were somewhat surprised that even motivational abuse caused the same behavioural backlash in employees.

"Workers may see any kind of abuse as a violation of how they expect to be treated", Eschleman pointed out.

"I think there are a lot of supervisors who believe that this could be an effective way to lead but I do not necessarily think that is the case for a lot of people. In general, a lot of people are going to respond negatively," researchers noted.

The study appeared in the journal Work and Stress.

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Updated Date: Oct 09, 2014 00:30:29 IST