Concerns With Fellow Employees At Work
People spend nearly one third of their adult lives at work, and workplace issues are a common source of stress for many. It is impossible to have a workplace where everyone's roles, expectations, and personalities work perfectly together, without conflict. As such, certain workplace issues may cause negative psychological symptoms.
Research shows perceived stress in the workplace, for example, is associated with a higher prevalence of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Workers may find discussing their workplace stress or challenges with a trained mental health professional is helpful to them both professionally and personally.
Common Workplace Issues
Common workplace issues that employees face include:
The workplace is typically an environment in which people with different personalities, communication styles, and worldviews interact.
These differences are one potential source of workplace issues and can ultimately lead to stress and tension for those involved.
Although all employees have the right to be treated fairly and to feel safe in the workplace, some employees face bullying, harassment, and/or discrimination.Members of the LGBT community, specifically, remain unprotected in the workplace by a national nondiscrimination policy. Additionally, some employees may experience dissatisfaction with their work, struggle with their performance on the job, or have difficulty finding a job that fits their abilities and interests.
Workplace issues can lead to decreased performance and productivity, loss of job/termination, decreased satisfaction/happiness, stress, and a wide variety of mental health issues. Harassment in the workplace can also lead to legal troubles. The American Psychological Association notes job insecurity and lack of support at work can exacerbate workplace issues.
High Stress Jobs
Some jobs involve a particularly high degree of stress. One theory, known as the job demand-control (JDC) model, posits that high degrees of work stress are prevalent in jobs with many demands and little control over working conditions.
Some jobs known to be particularly stressful include firefighter, airline pilot, enlisted military personnel, police officer, and event coordinator. Additionally, some jobs such as health care worker, teacher, social worker, and administrative support worker have been associated with increased levels of depression.
Elevated rates of substance abuse are prevalent among employees who work in mining, construction, and the food service industry.
Work-related stress is a significant problem, with an estimated 40% of workers describing their job as very or extremely stressful. In addition to mental health symptoms, work-related stress can cause physical health problems such as heart attacks, hypertension, pain, and insomnia.
How Psychotherapy Can Help with Workplace Issues
There are various ways in which therapy may be useful to help resolve workplace issues. Therapy can effectively treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms that result from workplace issues. Therapists can also teach healthy coping skills that employees may use to manage work-related stress and other issues. Find a therapist in your area.
For example, cognitive behavioral therapy helps people identify and change unhealthy thoughts, which often results in improved mood and overall well-being.
Mindfulness, meditation, and other stress management techniques can be taught in psychotherapy. Therapy can also be useful for improving an individual’s assertive communication skills, as well as other conflict resolution skills.These skills can then be applied in the workplace to improve one’s experience at work.
Vocational counseling is a specific type of counseling that can be useful for workplace issues such as job fit, performance, and satisfaction. Vocational counselors help employees identify their specific skills and abilities in order to help them develop career goals and find jobs for which they are well suited.
Industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology is also particularly relevant to workplace issues, as it focuses on human behavior in the workplace.
I-O psychologists are sometimes brought into a workplace to identify areas of concern within an organization, as well as to help workers create a more collaborative, healthy work environment.
Some employers, including many federal agencies, offer counseling to their employees at no cost through employee assistance programs (EAPs). These counseling sessions provide an opportunity for employees to discuss any issues that may be affecting their work performance with trained professionals.
Disclosing a Mental Health Condition to Your Employer
The decision to disclose a mental health condition to an employer can be a difficult one.
Although the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from firing employees with mental health conditions as long as they can perform the functions of their job, employees who make a disclosure may still face negative consequences such as not getting promoted, being treated differently, or even being fired. For this reason, many employees may not feel safe disclosing their mental health condition.
While informing a supervisor about mental health issues can help an employee get additional support or necessary accommodations at work, there is also the potential for stigma and other negative effects. Ultimately, the decision to disclose is a personal one.
Therapy for Workplace Issues: Case Examples
- Police officer experiencing psychological symptoms as a result of job stress: Jose, 48, is experiencing a lot of stress-related symptoms due to the high demands of his work as a police officer. He has been having difficulty sleeping and has noticed that his appetite has been decreasing. Additionally, he experiences muscle tension and headaches on a daily basis. Jose seeks therapy to help manage his stress. In his therapy sessions, he learns meditation and breathing techniques that he can practice each day in order to decrease his stress level. His therapist also helps him identify thinking patterns that contribute to his stress. For example, Jose realizes that he has been putting unrealistic expectations on himself. He has placed a lot of focus on small mistakes that he has made, while ignoring the times that he gets praise and positive feedback about his performance at work. Through his work in therapy, he is able to take a more realistic approach and accept that mistakes are inevitable while also allowing himself to acknowledge times when he performs well. Additionally, Jose and his therapist collaborate to develop a plan for increasing Jose’s lifestyle balance. He has been able to make time each day for exercise and relaxation, which has helped him decrease his overall stress level.
- Therapist helps with workplace bullying: Sara, 23, is consistently getting bullied by a coworker at the office. It's made her workplace environment incredibly uncomfortable, and she finds herself getting less and less work done. She also experiences a heavy feeling of anxiety before heading to the office and often calls in sick to avoid the issue all together. In lieu of quitting her job, Sara decided to find a therapist with whom to work. She has learned that she does not have to accept the current office environment as her reality, and has identified what steps to take to feel more comfortable at work. To communicate her feelings at the office, she had an open conversation with her boss about why her work is suffering, and organized a meeting with her coworker and boss to be mediated by the therapist. After a series of enlightening discussions, Sara feels more confident about going in to work and dealing with coworkers, who are treating her with a newfound respect.
- Bush, D. M., & Lipari, R. N.(2015). Substance use and substance use disorder by industry. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from //www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_1959/ShortReport-1959.html
- Hash, K. M., & Ceperich, S. D. (2006). Workplace issues. In D.F. Morrow, & L. Messinger (Eds.), Sexual orientation and gender expression in social work practice: Working with gay, lesbian, bisexual, & transgender people. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Rubino, C., Perry, S. J., Milam, A. C., Spitzmueller, C., & Zapf, D. (2012). Demand-control-person: Integrating the demand-control and conversation of resources models to test an expanded stressor-strain model. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 17(4), 456-472. doi: 10.1037/a0029718
- Szeto, A. C., & Dobson, K. S. (2013). Mental disorders and their association with perceived work stress: An investigation of the 2010 Canadian community health survey. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 18(2), 191-197. doi: 10.1037/a0031806
- The most stressful jobs of 2015. (n.d.). CareerCast.com. Retrieved from //www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/most-stressful-jobs-2015
- Tugend, A. (2014, November 14). Deciding whether to disclose mental disorders to the boss. The New York Times. Retrieved from //www.nytimes.com/2014/11/15/your-money/disclosing-mental-disorders-at-work.html?_r=0
- Weir, K. (2013). Work, stress and health. Monitor on Psychology, 44(8), 40. Retrieved from //www.apa.org/monitor/2013/09/stress-health.aspx
- Workplace stress. (n.d.). The American Institute of Stress. Retrieved from //www.stress.org/workplace-stress
- Worth, T. (2016, September 28). Ten careers with high rates of depression. Health.com. Retrieved from //www.health.com/health/gallery/thumbnails/0,,20428990,00.html
Last Update: 05-16-2019
Violence at Work
By: Abigail Taylor – Updated: 18 Jun 2019 | *Discuss
The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) define work-related violence as 'any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.' This includes verbal abuse and threats, as well as any form of physical abuse.
Those most at risk are employees who work with members of the public. However it is important to remember that violence can also be perpetrated by fellow employees.
Duties of employers
Employers have a responsibility to their employees to make sure that they are reasonable safe at work.
Often when considering this duty, employers consider the need for work premises and any machinery to be safe. Whilst these are important considerations, employers must also consider the risk posed by other people employees will meet during the course of their employment.
Higher risk jobs (e.g. workers in care homes for adults suffering from mental illness) would be expected to have specifically assessed this risk and have specific policies and procedures in place to try to reduce the risk of and prevent violent incidents occurring. All employees should be trained on these procedures. If you have concerns, speak to your employer.
It is important that these procedures are reviewed regularly. Any accidents or near misses should be reported to your employer so that they can review whether any amendments are needed.
First steps following an incident
- If an incident occurs, promptly report it to your manager.
If they don't investigate the incident, make sure that you make notes of what happened, write down the names of any witnesses, and take photos of the area and any injuries
- If you wish to pursue the matter as a criminal offence, ask your employer to report it to the police.
If they don't do so, you can call the police yourself. (For non-emergency calls, contact the police on 101.)
- If you have concerns about the incident being repeated, discuss ways to prevent this with your manager
If any violence (from a member of the public, customer or colleague) is committed against you, consider whether it is a criminal offence. Forms of violence which constitute a criminal offence may include:
- Use of racially abusive language
- Threats to kill
- Physical violence (e.g. punching / kicking, especially if injury is caused)
You may want to consider a civil action against your employer in the form of an employment law claim or an injury claim:
1. Employment law claim
If an employer fails to prevent violence at work, and you have to leave your job as a result, this could constitute a breach of contract and may result in a constructive dismissal claim.
For example: Your employer knows that a fellow employee regularly threatens you and does not take action to prevent the abuse. You are unable to work in those conditions and quit your job.
This could be constructive dismissal and you could be entitled to compensation.
Seek advice from an employment law specialist or your local Citizens Advice Bureau if you are considering making an employment claim.
2. Injury claim
If you are injured as a result of violence at work, you may be able to make an injury claim against your employer. Injuries may be physical (e.g. bruising / broken nose) or mental (e.g. a diagnosed psychological condition such as anxiety or PTSD).
Your employer is responsible for ensuring your reasonable safety at work.
If they have not taken appropriate action to do so, they may be found to have acted negligently and so be responsible for your injury. Employers are responsible for the actions of other employees, even if criminal.
Therefore if, for example, another employee assaults you at work, your employer will be liable to compensate you for any injury suffered as a result.
If you are considering this route, speak to an injury law specialist or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Work-place violence: Everybody's problem
As you will see from the above, violence at work is a serious issue for employers. Not only can work-place violence lead to injured employees requiring time off work, but employers may end up with civil claims against them.
Employees can be assured that the law is very much on their side in terms of ensuring their safety at work, which extends to protection from violence. If you have any concerns, speak to your employer and hopefully you can work together to prevent any incidents occurring.
However if any incident does occur and you are not happy with your employer's response to it, remember that you have several legal options open to you in order to resolve the situation.
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I've been attacked twice now yesterday really bad by my boss he is my next door neighbour 07835564131
Dave – 18-Jun-19 @ 12:05 PM
What you can and can’t do when employees discuss wages
Can your employees discuss their salaries or wages with their co-workers? Yes. Even if you have a company policy against it? Yes.
In fact, having a policy against it could get you in hot water with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) because such policies generally violate federal labor law.
The National Labor Relations Act protects employees’ rights to discuss conditions of employment, such as safety and pay even if you’re a non-union employer. The NLRB calls these discussions “protected concerted activity” and defines them as when employees “take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment.”
For example, the NLRB issued a complaint against a diaper supply company in St. Louis that fired a worker after she discussed wages with another employee. The employer had a handbook policy against discussing wages, but it was found to be unlawful by the NLRB. As a result, the employee was given back pay and offered reinstatement, and the employer changed its handbook.
This case illustrates a common misconception — that employers can forbid employees from discussing their salaries.
Repercussions from these kinds of conversations can ripple throughout the entire company. The more you know about what you can and can’t do, the better you can protect yourself and your company.
What employers can’t do
You cannot forbid employees – either verbally or in written policy – from discussing salaries or other job conditions among themselves.
Discussing salaries is protected regardless of whether employees are talking to each other in person or through social media.
What employers can do
Of course, discussing salaries can be problematic. Conversations can evoke feelings of jealousy and inequity among co-workers who most ly are unaware of the reasons for salary differences, including education, experience and training. Suspicion, distrust and other negative emotions often result from salary discussions and seriously affect company morale.
The best way to head off those problems is to foster a positive working relationship with your employees. Consider instituting strategies these:
- Pay people fairly in the first place: Review your own records and make sure your salaries are competitive in the marketplace.
- Encourage a workplace where employees are comfortable approaching management or HR personnel with questions or observations about salaries or working conditions.
- Help employees understand their salary ranges and job potential, and inform them how additional skills, training or certifications could possibly affect their growth within your company.
- Provide resources and training for management so they are aware of labor rulings and know how to respond to employees’ questions and requests.
- Put together a complaint resolution procedure for your company that allows employees to be heard.
- Conduct internal surveys that monitor your company’s general climate, employee engagement and compensation perceptions.
Have a compensation strategy
To help give a framework to your employee compensation, your company should detail how pay decisions are made. Having a system of checks and balances can help keep wages in line with your company policies, job descriptions and industry standards.
If you discover there are employees with salary rates disproportionate with your policy or the market, it could be seen by employees as unfair.
Sometimes positions have a significant strategic importance and the pay rate can be defended as acceptable. However, these inconsistencies should be documented as part of a pay structure analysis.It’s easier to defend a claim of unequal pay if you have objective criteria for how you base your pay decisions.
You may want to hire a third-party vendor to conduct a salary survey, which analyzes data a job description, experience, education and geography. It will give you similar jobs in the market and the pay scale – a place to start when determining what you’ll pay your employees. Repeat the salary surveys periodically to check that your wages are still in line with industry standards.
When determining compensation, there are a number of variables to consider. It can be many things:
Pay equity is a hot topic and is driving some companies to be more transparent in their compensation, from posting pay ranges (minimum to maximum) to indicating pay grades (without discussing exact figures) for jobs. Being transparent can help remove mystery regarding wage decisions and improve employee trust in management and morale.
Guidance for hiring managers
Once you determine how and what you’re going to pay employees for specific work, that information should be documented and used by hiring managers.
While you want to empower them to weigh in on salary decisions, those decisions can’t be made in a bubble. There should be a layer of approval.
If the salary will deviate from your policy, document the reasons for the exception, and have someone up the chain review and sign off on it.
Some states and cities across the country have laws in place that prohibit asking a job candidate about salary history. The thought is that your company should pay workers your formal compensation strategy, not their pay history. By relying on your company’s pay rates as the guide, it creates a more equitable pay structure.
How your HR staff can help
When an employee brings up the question of pay, consider bringing in your HR staff, which should be equipped to ask more questions and find out what an employee’s actual concerns are. It could be something other than just a matter of pay rate.
It could be a personal problem: For example, an employee’s spouse has lost a job and they’re in a bind and need more money.
It could be a matter of an employee hearing that others are getting paid more, and the issue of gender inequality could enter the discussion.Having human resources involved sends a message to the employee that their concerns are taken seriously, and takes into consideration that additional employee assistance and support may be needed.
If you’re most companies, your employees are the backbone of your organization. Mutual trust and the feeling of being valued can go a long way in heading off problems before they escalate. With the guidance of your HR representatives and management, you should be able to handle whatever issue comes along.
How can you get the scoop on employment laws that apply to your business? Download our free e-book, Employment law: Are you putting your business at risk?