In the wake of movies such as Horrible Bosses, the Houston Chronicle did a piece examining what realistic behaviors an employee can exhibit when feeling stressed by their boss. The article features Sharon Birkman Fink, CEO and Chairman of Birkman International, discussing how Stress Behavior can manifest in the workplace and the discreet ways that employees get revenge on their bosses. Poor morale is one of the driving forces behind high turnover rates, as well as low productivity and engagement, so it’s critical to improve it in your organization.
In the real world, experts say, revenge seekers are more subtle than the friends who tried to kill off their bosses in the movie. In some cases, employees who feel wronged aren’t even aware they’re getting even. It can be neglecting to return calls to potential clients, said organizational consultant Sharon Birkman Fink, CEO of Birkman International in Houston. Or focusing on personal matters more than work.
Employees who feel under-appreciated or maligned by a boss may exhibit those kinds of stress behaviors, Fink said. They tune out over time, seeing no reason to offer ideas if no one is interested anyway. Usually, employees opt to seek new work when they believe they’re locked in a dead-end job. That’s harder to do during a time of high unemployment, which may be one reason movies like Horrible Bosses — or the 1980 comedy 9 to 5 starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton as harassed working women – have captured the imagination of a frustrated workforce. According to a recent survey by Mercer – a human resource and related financial services consulting firm – half of the U.S. workforce is looking for a new job or checked out of the one they currently have.