Workplace Revenge

USA Today is reporting that nearly half of 1,000 Americans sampled in a survey — 44 percent, to be precise — have admitted to seeking “workplace revenge” against a fellow employee.

57ced8b263393bfcc559fc398afcf4a7-office-space-meme-office-humorThe definition of “workplace revenge” used by the survey is pretty broad, and the results suggest that people who participate in such antics aren’t exactly deep thinkers, either.  For example, the most popular form of “workplace revenge” found by the survey is workers “causing a purposeful decline in the quality or quantity” of their own work — apparently in an effort to get back at a supervisor.   Even if you were a vengeful type, this seems like a poorly considered strategy if you want to actually keep your job.  Another popular form of workplace revenge is “quitting in an unconventional way” — and all of the survey respondents who followed this course probably did so convinced that their loud, “unconventional,” no doubt public departure from their job would teach their mean bosses a lesson that they would remember forever.  Of course, anyone who’s got much workplace experience would realize that temper tantrums by departing employees are pretty common and that many co-workers who witness the “unconventional” resignation will be inwardly thrilled that the vengeful co-worker is hitting the road.

Hey, do employees who want to inflict “workplace revenge” grasp the concept of a self-inflicted wound?

According to the survey, other popular forms of revenge are “spreading unflattering rumors” and “hiding a co-worker’s possessions” (starting, perhaps, with staplers?), as well as eating a co-worker’s lunch, sabotaging a co-worker’s work, and getting a co-worker fired.  And, interestingly, the likelihood that an employee will try to take “workplace revenge” increases with rank, with “senior managers” and “general managers” more likely to engage in these tactics than entry-level employees.

The survey really makes you wonder how many toxic workplaces exist, and makes me grateful that I’ve never been the target — at least, not to my knowledge — of a “workplace revenge” scenario.  Is it really that bad out there?  And if supervisors are regularly taking part in the vengeance, then we’re definitely into truly dysfunctional territory.

Jobs are hard enough without worrying that your fellow employees might be trying to stab you in the back or get you fired because of some perceived slight.  No wonder so many Americans want to retire early!

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