20% of U.S. Workers Find Their Workplace Hostile or Threatening

A recent study published by the Rand Corporation and based on research from the Harvard Medical School and UCLA describes how Americans perceive their workplace. Many of the study’s findings are surprising or even shocking.

  • Nearly one in five workers describes their work environment as hostile or threatening. Workers who interact with customers are more likely to report a hostile or threatening environment.
  • About half of U.S. workers report that they spend personal time completing the tasks required of their job.
  • One quarter of employees do not have enough time to do their job.

Nicole Maestas, the lead author of the study says, “(Work) is a pretty taxing place for many people. I was surprised by how pressured and hectic the workplace is.”[1]

On the positive side, 75% of workers have the freedom to choose the order of their tasks; 60% feel that their manager is supportive and over half say they have good friends at work. Clearly, the American workplace has a mixture of both positive and negative elements which impact workers. Maestas says, “There’s a message for employers here. Working conditions really do matter.

As a leader in your organization, how do you improve working conditions? We suggest three strategies that not only improve working conditions, but also encourage engagement leading to greater productivity.

  1. Invest in the development of your teamUse an assessment, like RightPath’s Path4 and Path6 Profiles, to provide insights into strengths and struggles and help your teammates work together more effectively.
  1. Help your team manage conflictSome teams are consumed by infighting, but most teams avoid or minimize conflict, ignoring problems allowing them to fester. When leaders manage conflict, treating it as an opportunity for improvement, workers are free to focus on accomplishing work goals.
  1. Write a Leadership Development Plan.Leaders who use feedback from colleagues more accurately understand the adjustments needed to improve leadership effectiveness. RightPath’s 360 provides accurate feedback along with tools to identify leadership growth opportunities and development tracks to address them.

How would you describe your work environment? Hostile and stressful? Or engaged and collaborative? Perhaps a bit of both? Every workplace has room for improvement. What commitments should you make to improve your workplace?


[1] AP Economics Writer, One-fifth of Americans find workplace hostile or threatening, Downloaded from AJC.com on August 15, 2017.