Effect of Workplace Ostracism on Healthcare Professionals

By Alana Smart / December 27, 2023 / Blog ,

Effect of Workplace Ostracism on Healthcare Professionals

Exclusion from workplace social interactions can lead to damaging effects on health and wellness, a recent study finds. The research from the University of Eastern Finland illuminates the pervasive influence of workplace ostracism on healthcare professionals. It emphasizes the critical implications for individual well-being, organizational health, and patient safety.

The study engaged 569 healthcare professionals in diverse roles across two hospitals, utilizing a comprehensive semi-structured survey in January 2021. The survey captured their experiences with workplace ostracism, alongside factors such as job satisfaction, stress, perceived health, loneliness, and self-esteem.

Significantly, key findings reveal the profound repercussions of workplace ostracism on healthcare workers’ job satisfaction, perceived health, and stress levels. Importantly, the research emphasizes that ostracism poses a more severe threat to job satisfaction than loneliness alone, underscoring its uniquely damaging impact.

A staggering 73.4% of respondents reported experiencing workplace ostracism. This exclusionary behavior manifested in various forms. Respondents reported subtle snubs like ignoring greetings to more pronounced acts like abandoning conversations.  Disturbingly, the findings indicate a pervasive pattern, with 78.9% of social workers, 76.8% of practical nurses, and 74.8% of nurses reporting experiences of ostracism.

These exclusionary practices have far-reaching implications. Healthcare workers subjected to ostracism exhibited heightened levels of stress, diminished job satisfaction, and a decline in perceived health. These outcomes not only compromise individual performance and morale but may significantly contribute to a toxic work environment that can erode the quality of patient care.

“The harmful effects of ostracism are significant both at individual and workplace level,” lead study author Sirpa Manninen, a doctoral researcher at the university, said in a press release. “Learning to identify and recognize ostracism as a specific phenomenon, and calling it out, is key. This will also make it easier to intervene and help workplaces build an atmosphere where ostracism is not tolerated.”


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