Workers who are subjected to putdowns, continuous criticism or off-colour remarks while on the job could be dealing with something more serious than a temporary blow to the ego, a new study suggests. Findings from two Canadian researchers indicate workplace bullying appears to be more harmful to employees than those experiencing sexual harassment.


Study authors Sandy Hershcovis of the University of Manitoba and Julian Barling from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., reviewed 110 studies conducted over 21 years that looked at sexual harassment and workplace aggression, which includes bullying, incivility and interpersonal conflict. From 128 samples used with sizes ranging from 1,491 to 53,470 people, 46 included subjects who experienced sexual harassment, 86 experienced workplace aggression, while six experienced both.


The studies selected examined workplace aggression and sexual harassment in relation to one or more specific outcomes like job satisfaction, stress, turnover and psychological health.


While researchers found both bullying and sexual harassment can lead to unhealthy consequences for employees, it was cases involving workplace aggression where more severe consequences surfaced.