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Monday, September 27, 2021



In the workplace, employees find plenty of ways to get revenge. They spread unflattering rumours about their enemies. They hide their co-worker's possessions. They eat a co-worker's lunch. They delete work from a co-worker's computer. They do something nice for their enemy - though perhaps with an ulterior motive.

Revenge is a natural emotion and something desired by everyone at some point in the workplace. Petty annoyances and disrespect typically are usually ignored, but serious disputes involving revenge are handled by the human resources department and not through personal retribution.

An Evolutionary Purpose.

Revenge actually serves an evolutionary purpose. By exacting revenge, you make a person's gains less profitable, which helps prevent them from hurting you in the future. The desire for revenge comes when you feel you have been wronged. 

Long-Term Effects.

A series of experiments showed that while most people believed revenge would make them feel better, in reality it did the opposite.

In one experiment, participants were divided into "punishers," who could get revenge on someone who double-crossed them during a game, and "non-punishers," who were not given this opportunity. Punishers and non-punishers rated their feelings immediately after the game, as well as 10 minutes later.

Punishers actually felt worse than forecasters predicted they would have felt. Punishers even felt worse than non-punishers, despite getting the chance to take their revenge. Ten minutes after the game, punishers continued to brood on the double-crosser significantly more than the others did.

Revenge in the Electronic Age.

The electronic age has made it easier for vengeful workers to sabotage an employer's business. All an employee need is a thumb drive or a mobile device to steal information.

A survey by a security firm found that most of the information technology workers would take sensitive data or company passwords with them if they were fired.

Those who sabotage their employers' computer systems - or do something that could undermine a firm's business - could well end up in jail.

It is hard to say how many such sabotage cases there may be; most companies never report such breaches, fearing that investors and customers may consider the breach a sign of lax security.

It is paramount to prevent revenge scenarios in the first place. Managers need to take off their blinkers and keep a close watch on their teams and the dynamics that occur between their employees. They need to stay away from favouritism. They need to build trust with their employees to the point that their people feel comfortable coming to them with their concerns and issues. 

Preventing Revenge.

If a company has to announce layoffs - or deliver other bad news that could incite revenge - it is a good idea to tell the workers, why the company is taking the actions. For instance, if layoffs are genuinely to protect the company's bottom line, explain that to fired workers - along with the reason for why certain departments or positions were hit - so they do not feel they were singled out.

The best way that the employers can protect themselves from disgruntled workers is to think before they act. Think about the consequences of your actions and how it might be interpreted by the workers. If you think you may have gone too far, then push it back a notch.

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