Researchers from the University of British Columbia 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.
‘There are many people who feel quietly victimized in their daily lives, and most of our current strategies for dealing with workplace injustice don’t give them a voice,” said study co-author Sandra Robinson, Ph.D.
“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,” said Robinson.
“But ostracism actually leads people to feel more helpless, like they’re not worthy of any attention at all.”
The researchers used a series of surveys for their study, to be published in a forthcoming edition of the journal Organization Science.
Investigators first determined that people consistently rate workplace ostracism as less socially inappropriate, less psychologically harmful and less likely to be prohibited than workplace harassment.
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.
Researchers analyzed an employment survey by a Canadian university that included feedback on feelings of workplace isolation and harassment. They then compared it to turnover rates three years after the survey was conducted.
From this review, investigators found that people who reported feeling ostracized were significantly more likely to have quit.
“There is a tremendous effort underway to counter bullying in workplaces and schools, which is definitely important. But abuse is not always obvious,” Robinson said.
Source: University of British Columbia