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Workplace abuse can take the form of verbal or physical abuse or sexual harassment. Laws prohibit sexual harassment and some other forms of abuse, but employees may still feel compelled to stay silent for fear of losing their jobs. Victims of abuse can file complaints with their company's human resources department.
An abusive work environment can lead the abused person to feel humiliated, with a feeling of diminished significance. Not only can humiliation impact an employee's work performance, but the humiliated also suffer from increased levels of stress. Feelings of significance contribute to a person's overall sense of health and well-being, and so the sense of humiliation can erode an employee's sense of self-worth. Women and minorities often suffer more from humiliation than others, according to an article in the "William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law."
Depression resulting from an abusive work environment can lower a person's ability to concentrate as well as devalue an individual's sense of self-worth. At work, depression can lead to lower productivity. A person suffering from abuse-related depression may also call out of work more often if he does not want to face his abuser. On a more personal level, a depressed person may lose interest in activities he previously enjoyed and experience disruptions in sleep.
People with work-related anxiety generally do not excel as much as non-anxious people, according to a study conducted at the University of Michigan. Employers are less likely to award anxious workers with promotions, the study found. Anxiety can bleed into an employee's personal life and decrease overall life satisfaction. People can become irritable and suffer from sleep deprivation, which compounds existing symptoms. Anxious people must deal with a constant, underlying tension. Anxiety can also lead to depression.
From an employer's perspective, an abusive work environment can lead to low moral and a high turnover rate. High turnover rates often affect a business's success since long-time employees better know the company's services and understand its mission. An abusive work environment can also decrease employee loyalty. If an employee does not care about her employer, then she will not strive to work hard and please its customers. She will not take on new projects or think about ways to improve the business. Companies with high turnover rates must also marshal resources to find and train new employees instead of using those resources to continue growing and succeeding.
- New York State Nurse's Association: Memorandum of Support
- "William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law"; Humiliation at Work; Catherine Fisk; 2001
- University of Michigan; Deep Blue; Severity of Anxiety and Work-Related Outcomes of Patients With Anxiety Disorders; Steven R. Erickson, et al.; December 2009