Reducing anger at work: what can organizations do?

Stressed employee in front of computer frustrated at work

Written by Shalene Allen, Senior Research Assistant in Dr. Leslie B. Hammer Lab

Institute faculty member and Oregon Healthy Workforce Center Co-director Leslie Hammer, Ph.D., shared her expertise during the afternoon panel session of our Spring 2020 symposium virtual event in May addressing workplace relational aggression. Dr. Hammer’s afternoon session and related discussion focused on organizational strategies for reducing anger at work. With two prominent and monumental stressors our society has ever confronted, COVID-19 and institutional and structural racism against marginalized groups, these strategies on reducing anger at work are important and timely areas to address. The current national stressors are undoubtedly impacting the workforce, and workplace anger may be exacerbated further during these difficult and stressful times. Organizations could benefit from better understanding the precursors to anger at work and strategies that may reduce workplace anger. During uneasy times, organizations, as well as supervisors with their direct relationships with employees would benefit from better understanding the precursors of workplace anger and strategies on reducing anger at work, while taking into consideration stressors such as the economy, physical environment, policies and practices, job demands, as well as unfair treatment and personal employee stressors.

Dr. Hammer and colleagues provide strategies to educate organizations, supervisors, and employees on the detriments of workplace anger and offer potential solutions for organizations to adopt, such as improving workplace conditions, reducing injustices, and providing supportive trainings to supervisors. Workers who have lost their jobs have had drastic schedule and environmental workplace changes, and many are unsure of what their future at work will look like.

As Oregon begins to enter the re-opening phases, organizations adopting a flexible schedule, ensuring transparency, and listening to input from their employees can be a viable strategy and first step to reduce overall stress and strain that employees may feel, which can help alleviate key contributors to increases in anger. Similarly, organizations can reduce workplace injustices by building open and clear ways to communicate with employees, provide diverse and inclusive opportunities for professional development and reduce barriers for employees to advance in the workplace.

While taking into consideration these strategies for organizations to improve workplace conditions and reduce constraints as well as focusing on breaking down barriers of workplace injustices for employees, trainings are an additional strategy for organizations to adopt to improve the overall health and well-being of workers and lessen the impact of workplace anger. Dr. Hammer’s research is focused on improving the health, well-being and safety of workers through the implementation of tailored training interventions focused on increasing employee-supportive behaviors at the supervisor and leadership levels. These evidence-based supportive supervisor trainings include but are not limited to the STAR program, the SHIP toolkit, and the VSST training.

Educating supervisors on how to be more supportive of their employees can lead to improved health and well-being outcomes for their employees. With current global crises occurring, these educational and behavioral support tools are crucial and timely for any organization to adopt. For more guidance on supervisor supportive trainings, research and resources, please contact Dr. Leslie Hammer at hammerl@ohsu.edu. For additional resources, visit YourWorkpath.com, an Oregon Healthy Workforce Center resource that provides Total Worker Health® toolkits and guidance.

Reducing Anger at Work: What can organizations do? PDF

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