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The Seemingly Harmless Act That Leads to High Employee Turnover

A good way to try to keep your employees around is to make sure no one feels left out.
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Blocking harassment at your company is a worthwhile cause to be sure, but perhaps even more important is preventing employee ostracism.

That's because employees who are ignored and neglected in the workplace are more likely to quit their jobs even compared to those who are actively bullied, according to new research.

"We've been taught that ignoring someone is socially preferable--if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all," study co-author and University of British Columbia business professor Sandra Robinson said in a statement. "But ostracism actually leads people to feel more helpless, like they're not worthy of any attention at all."

Robinson and her colleagues conducted the study using a series of surveys. The first asked employees how toxic they believe workplace bullying and ostracism to be. 

Respondents said that being ignored is less psychologically harmful than bullying. However, ostracism is more socially acceptable and, therefore, less likely to get addressed at their organization. 

The second survey found that neglect is more likely to negatively impact job satisfaction as well as employee wellbeing. 

Even worse, part three of the study found that ostracism has an insidious effect over time that can impact employee retention. The researchers followed up with participants three years later and found that, "ostracism, but not harassment, significantly predicted actual turnover."

So the next time you see an employee who seems to have the workplace blues, remember that it might be something a little more subtle than name-calling that has them down. 

Last updated: Jun 13, 2014

LAURA MONTINI | Staff Writer

Laura Montini is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco.




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