From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Beware of Boss

A recent study by a UK company indicates that when it comes to dishing out workplace stress, women bosses are anything but the fairer sex.

The study of 1076 adults by Portsmouth, England-based Life Coaching Academy, found that 63 percent of the survey’s respondents admitted to some form of workplace abuse or “bullying” from their bosses, and that 65 percent of those reporting the abuse said it came from a female boss.

The reported workplace abuse, by both male and female bosses, manifested itself in a number of ways including verbal, physical, and emotional attacks. Fifty-two percent of the respondents stated that a boss swore at employees, while 16 percent recalled a boss throwing an object at an employee, and another three percent saw their boss actually strike a coworker. A full two percent of the respondents reported that a boss bit a worker. And lastly, one respondent recalled a co-worker being denied time off for medical treatment because the condition, in this particular case cancer, was, according to the boss, “all in the mind.”

According to the study, workers holding sales jobs were the most-often subjected to abuse from the boss, with customer service, marketing and the media not far behind.

Workplace stress has been linked to absenteeism as well as worker health concerns including an increased risk of injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). In a 2002 French study on the relationship of stress to MSDs and injuries, it was found that when the body experiences stress, it releases certain chemicals that can lead to tendon inflammation and oedema, a swelling in the joints, and associated upper extremity disorders including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) estimates that 19 million workdays are lost each year in that country due to workplace stress. In the U.S., NIOSH has stated that psychosocial factors may have a “positive association” with upper extremity disorders, but counters that assertion by stating that “while [these factors are] statistically significant in some studies, [they] generally have only modest strength.”