Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that while most consider ostracism less harmful than bullying, feeling excluded is significantly more likely to lead to job dissatisfaction, quitting and health problems.
“We’ve been taught that ignoring someone is socially preferable–if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” says Sauder School of Business Professor Sandra Robinson, who co-authored the study. “But ostracism actually leads people to feel more helpless, like they’re not worthy of any attention at all.”
“There is a tremendous effort underway to counter bullying in workplaces and schools, which is definitely important. But abuse is not always obvious,” says Robinson.”
Additional surveys revealed that people who claimed to have experienced ostracism were significantly more likely to report a degraded sense of workplace belonging and commitment, a stronger intention to quit their job, and a larger proportion of health problems.
The researchers also took an employment survey by a Canadian university that included feedback on feelings of workplace isolation and harassment and compared it to turnover rates three years after the survey was conducted and found that people who reported feeling ostracised were significantly more likely to have quit.
Photo Credit: staticjana
Download the full research paper here:
Jane O’Reilly, Sandra L. Robinson, Jennifer L. Berdahl, Sara Banki. Is Negative Attention Better Than No Attention? The Comparative Effects of Ostracism and Harassment at Work. Organization Science, 2014.
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