Huntsman Alumni Magazine

Spring 2014

Toxic Work Environments

Boss yelling at employee (cartoon)Merideth Ferguson is deeply engaged in research regarding abusive supervisors and toxic work environments. Her research finds that being the target of an abusive boss is not an experience that a subordinate can easily “leave at the office.” Instead, the stress and strain of the supervisor’s hostility follows them home where it creates tension in the marital relationship, lowers family satisfaction, and undermines family functioning.

Dr. Ferguson’s research indicates that abusive bosses affect employees at work through lower performance on the job, absence from work, and poorer mental and physical well-being. The impact on mental and physical health has far-reaching implications for the workplace as well as for the nation’s rising healthcare costs. In addition, with the impact on the family, these behaviors cross back over to affect the workplace even further in that marital problems are shown to result in reduced productivity at work.