Psychological Terror Hurts U.S. Businesses

Workplace violence isn't limited to physical attacks. A study by Christine Pearson, a management professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler business school found that psychological violence -- which includes bullying, hollering, threats, and unrelenting criticism -- is the most common type of workplace violence and adversely impacts productivity and employee commitment. For example, more than half -- 53% -- of the victims of such workplace psychological attacks say they lost work time worrying about future encounters with the perpetrator. What's more, 12% of the victims of verbal abuse changed jobs, and another 46% considered changing jobs. In addition, almost 40% of the victims of such psychological attacks say the verbal abuse they had encountered at work changed their commitment to the organization, and 28% say they lost work time simply trying to avoid the instigator of verbal assaults. "The UNC study shows how devastating psychological violence can be to an employee," says Beth Lindamood, who heads the violence prevention program at Great American Insurance Co., Cincinnati. "Companies are being hurt in the form of absenteeism, lower productivity and morale, and employee turnover."

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