In the second blog in our three-part series on stress in the workplace (read part one here), we focus on relationships as a contributing factor to stress.

Negative relationships in the workplace can have a dramatic effect on mental health and stress levels. A survey carried out by internet recruitment company Monster, revealed that seven in ten Brits admitted to being bullied in the workplace by either their boss or their colleagues. These statistics placed Britons among the world’s most bullied workers. The research also highlighted that 83 per cent of European workers reported being victims of workplace bullying at some point in their career.

Negative behaviour within the workplace can manifest itself in many forms, including:

  • Ignoring and excluding
  • Setting unachievable tasks
  • Spreading rumours
  • Setting meaningless and unpleasant tasks
  • Humiliation in front of colleagues
  • Withholding information
  • Physical or verbal abuse
  • Undervaluing a colleague’s contribution

As a result of negative behaviour in the workplace, an employee or even groups of employees can begin to experience raised stress levels and ill mental health, which can dramatically impact work performance. Some of the effects negative behaviour in the workplace can have on employees include:

Mental health

Employees who are subject to negative behaviour in the workplace can begin to experience isolation and ill mental health, including anxiety, panic attacks, depression and trouble sleeping. The longer the exposure to the negative behaviour is, the more likely the employee is to dwell on the experiences. This may then begin to impact on their personal time and further compromise their mental health and make them anxious about going to work.

Physical health

Negative behaviour in the workplace can not only cause ill mental health, but it can also cause ill physical health. Employees who have been subject to negative behaviour in their workplace can experience illnesses such as high blood pressure and even a reduced immune system, which makes them more susceptible to other illnesses.

Productivity and concentration

Evidence suggests that negative behaviour in the workplace can impact on an employee’s productivity and concentration. Bullied workers can have trouble concentrating on their workload and begin to experience difficulties with decision making, which leads to an overall loss in their productivity.

In the third instalment in our workplace stress series, we’re going to be looking at how to spot and manage the signs of workplace stress.


About Health (2014) What are the effects of workplace bullying
Huffington Post (2012) Britons Are The World's Most Bullied Workers, Study Reveals

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