Unattractive employees more likely to be bullied at workplace

Unattractive employees more likely to be bullied at workplace

Unattractive employees more likely to be bullied at workplace

People who are considered unattractive are more likely to be belittled and bullied in their workplace, a new US study has claimed.

The study led by a Michigan State University business scholar is the first to link attractiveness to cruelty in the workplace.

"Frankly, it's an ugly finding," said Brent Scott, associate professor of management and lead investigator on the study.

"Although we like to think we're professional and mature in the workplace, it can be just like high school in many ways," Scott said.

The researchers surveyed 114 workers at a health care facility in the southeastern United States. The workers were asked how often their co-workers engaged in cruel behaviour toward them (which included saying hurtful things, acting rudely and making fun of them).

People who didn't know the study participants judged their attractiveness from digital photos.

The unattractive workers were treated much more harshly than attractive employees even when other key factors were taken into account, including age, gender and how long they had worked at the health care facility.
The researchers also collected information on how agreeable or friendly the workers were, based on questionnaires completed by their spouses, partners or good friends.
The study found that disagreeable workers, like unattractive employees, were treated more harshly than their co-workers.
"Our findings revealed that both personality and appearance matter," Scott said.
Knowing the potential targets of hurtful behaviour could help managers monitor susceptible employees to prevent them from becoming victims or to provide counselling and social support if prevention attempts fail, he said.
The study was published in the journal Human Performance.