Friday, May 11, 2007


Cracking Down On Desk Rage

One of the links below defines desk rage as "when a cubicle-confined employee gets so frustrated, so stressed, that he or she (usually he) lets fly a few expletives aimed at a customer, colleague, boss or potted plant." Workplace issues reporter Anita Bruzzese claims that the workplace has become such a "pressure cooker" that the incidence of desk rage is increasing. So have the efforts of employers to crack down on desk rage, which they see as a dangerous harbinger of workplace violence. While employees were occasionally allowed to blow their stack in the past, nowadays "if you have an eruption at work, someone will go to human resources and you're going to be written up for it. You'll be labeled a ‘hothead,' and that will follow you throughout your career." It is most ironic, although entirely predictable, that corporations are cracking down more than ever on responses to the same stress that they are trying so hard to increase.

A survey conducted by a New York consulting firm found that 29 percent of workers admitted yelling at a co-worker. According to another survey conducted this March, 14 percent of workers report incidents of desk rage, 22 percent have been "driven to tears by stress", 16 percent report property damage caused by desk rage, 9 percent report physical violence at the workplace, and 10 percent believe their workplace may not be safe. However, this survey indicated that the incidence of desk rage has remained flat since 2000, although the incidence of "verbal abuse" at the workplace has actually decreased 45 percent. This decrease may be due to the increased willingness of workers to report instances of desk rage to management, although unfortunately this metric - call it "the fink factor" - was not quantified by either survey.

How can business reduce the incidence of desk rage itself? According to The Hartford Courant, "The solution is obvious. Cut back on the workload. Managers need to get off of their employees' backs." The tone of the rest of that particular article is semi-facetious, but that remark at least rings true.

"Workplace Stress Causes Desk Rage in 14% of American Workplaces, Says New Study" from PRWeb
"Hissy fits of old days now warn podmates of violence" from The Ithaca Journal
"It's All The Rage, And It Might Be Wise To Clue In Your Boss" from The Hartford Courant

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