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An abusive boss can put a strain on marriages

Heather Rudow November 29, 2011

(Photo:Flickr/Shelley Panzarella)

The stability and happiness in your marriage can be affected by someone other than your spouse, say researchers from Baylor University; your marriage can also be impacted by your boss.

An online survey of 280 full-time employees and their partners found that employees who worked for abusive supervisors — which the researchers defined as actions such as “tantrums, rudeness, public criticism and inconsiderate action” — were affected negatively in ways that impacted their marriages as well as the rest of their families.

“It may be that as supervisor abuse heightens tension in the relationship, the employee is less motivated or able to engage in positive interactions with the partner and other family members,” said study co-author Merideth Ferguson.

However, the researchers found that employees with children had greater family satisfaction. They also found that the longer the partner’s relationship, the less impact the abusive boss had on the family.

“These findings have important implications for organizations and their managers,” said study author Dawn Carlson. “The evidence highlights the need for organizations to send an unequivocal message to those in supervisory positions that these hostile and harmful behaviors will not be tolerated. Employers must take steps to prevent or stop the abuse and also to provide opportunities for subordinates to effectively manage the fallout of abuse and keep it from affecting their families. Abusive supervision is a workplace reality, and this research expands our understanding of how this stressor plays out in the employee’s life beyond the workplace.”

Source: Baylor University

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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1 Comment

  1. wannie

    An ” abusive ” supervisor/ manager in the workplace should not be in this position of power .
    This undesirable behavior has an impact on all employees whether they are married or not.
    The health system in particular, does not address the ramifications of these types of supervisors/ managers on staffs psychological well being and continue to either ignore or cover-up what goes on .
    When Human Resources Departments of any firm actually do their jobs properly in investigating these people and informing these people on the legal ramifications of what they continue to do or actually ” not ” keep investigating these issues as a grievance when they come under harassment and bullying, which is a far more serious workplace issue or concern and also these people will have a past history of undesirable behavior(s) or employing a completely independent consultant ( not a previous employee that was within the organisation ) to legally investigate the matter with unfettered access this will hold the person concerned accountable for their undesirable behavior(s).
    This of course does not occur when companies have a legal obligation to do so .

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