Organizational conflict may be increased and employee relations damaged by the way “psychologically entitled workers” act at work, a new study suggests. Such workers believe they are typically more deserving of particular rewards or benefits than their co-workers.
In Entitled Workers Are More Frustrated On the Job and More Likely to Abuse Co-Workers, New Research Finds, the University of New Hampshire reports,
The researchers found that individuals with strong entitlement-driven self-perceptions can feel more frustrated and dissatisfied with their work lives than employees with a more objective view of their relative worth and their contributions.
“Overall, the frustration experienced by entitled workers appears to stem from perceived inequities in the rewards received by co-workers to whom psychologically entitled employees feel superior,” Harvey said.
The entitled employees studied also engaged in abusive workplace behaviors such as insulting, breaking promises and spreading rumors about co-workers in response to job-related frustration. They also were more likely to engage in political behaviors such as ingratiation, self-promotion and doing favors. While such political behaviors often are considered acceptable to draw attention to employees who have earned such recognition, the researchers note that these behaviors also can be used to promote favoritism and influence an inequitable distribution of rewards.
And here’s where it gets particularly interesting for management and human resources: It’s tempting to think that increased communication from supervisors would reduce entitled workers’ frustration, reduce the team conflict that results from their behaviors, and improve organizational conflict management.
Yet the researchers concluded the opposite is the case. When supervisors increase communication with psychologically entitled employees, their frustration can increase. The same was not the case for employees who don’t generally have a sense of entitlement.
Lots of implications there for the ways and amounts that supervisors and managers interact with entitled workers.
The full article, Frustration-based Outcomes of Entitlement and the Influence of Supervisor Communication by Paul Harvey and Kenneth Harris, is available in the July 2010 issue of the journal Human Relations.