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Hostility in the air at workplaces this Valentine's Day

February 10, 2012|By Matt Stevens
  • A Countrywide Financial call center in Simi Valley in 2004.
A Countrywide Financial call center in Simi Valley in 2004. (Stephen Osman / Los Angeles…)

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many workplace managers are keeping an eye out for workplace romance that can destroy productivity.

But one group of workplace consultants said that there’s another, bigger problem.

Experts at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. released a cautionary essay this week that warned managers to be on the lookout for workplace hostility. The firm, which helps displaced workers make the transition to reemployment, said that because workplaces are so understaffed, employees become overworked and frustration abounds.

“Now we’re getting into a point in the economy where companies are going to start hiring soon,”  Challenger spokesman James Pedderson said. “So now we’re starting to get to a point where people are going to start looking for new situations if they’re super unhappy. And these are the people who lasted through the recession. These are the employees the company thought worthy of keeping, so you don’t want to lose them now.”

The essay cited numerous studies suggesting that workplace incivility is on the rise. The studies said that  between 40% and 80% of people experienced varying forms of insults, rudeness, denigration and disrespect at work. The essay also cited a 2010 poll from the Workplace Bullying Institute reporting that 35% of people say they are bullied at work.

"It might be a stretch to call workplaces a 'powder keg,' but managers should be on the lookout for signs of worker hostility and be prepared to act,” Chief Executive John A. Challenger wrote in the essay. “Often in situations where managers are aware of a problem between two or more co-workers, they merely look the other way.”

Challenger provided 10 tips for employees on how to create better working environments.

One was simply to leave temporarily. “Take a vacation,” the essay said. “Sometimes the best remedy for finding happiness at work is to step away from it.”  

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