How managing anger helps increase productivity at work?

Diagnosis: Anger among employees at work creates costs, lowers productivity, and increases turnover, in addition to presenting liability issues. Employee anger increases health and morale problems. Suspension for workplace outbursts of anger does not effectively mitigate the problem. Some cognitive behavioral interventions, have been proven to reduce anger, reduce costs, and improve productivity and morale when properly applied. Anger management interventions can be implemented at several levels, including classes for offending employees, periodic preventative training for all employees, management training to identify difficulties and intervene before aggressive behavior erupts, and executive coaching, providing individual help for managers and executives with anger issues. The cost of these interventions is much less than that of anger left unchecked in the workplace.

Anger at workplace
When handled poorly anger, frustration, and resentment sabotage business productivity. “Desk Rage” and “Going Postal,” are only the tip of the iceberg. While these behaviors can leave a company open to litigation and cause an obvious amount of lost productivity, they are only the tip of the iceberg. When workers feel hostile towards other workers or management, morale decreases—as does the amount of work accomplished. When workers have anger problems at home, the emotional upset leaks out at work, reducing individual productivity and perhaps even triggering angry encounters with co-workers. In the workplace, anger may be aggressively expressed or come out “sideways,” passive-aggressively sabotaging group cohesiveness and productivity.


Many people never learn to manage anger well. Some try to avoid it, until they explode—causing a scene, becoming very ashamed, and alienating their peers. Others use subtle attacks, like the water-cooler “put down,” that don’t violate the rules of corporate behavior, but still lead to alienation. Others act out passive-aggressively, delivering work that doesn’t quite meet expectations, but is hard to directly fault. The obvious ones go through the work day with a bad attitude, are hard to approach, and may even vent rage at co-workers by yelling, name calling, or e-mail flaming.

At its extreme, anger in the workplace can escalate to violence. Studies show that up to 42% of employee work time is spent engaging in or trying to resolve conflict. Too many American workers say they work in an atmosphere where physical violence has occurred.

photo courtesy ot


Health Effects
Anger is not just bad for workplace productivity, but also poses a serious threat to long-term employee health. Studies show that the most angry half of the subjects were four to five times more likely to suffer heart diseases and seven times more likely to die of any cause than those who were less angry.

Being angry is a stronger predictor of dying young than smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol (see how Effects of Work Stress on Ambulatory Blood Pressure )


Clearly, anger and stress are bad for business. Anger management classes offer a solution that can lead to reduced stress levels, better communication, less frustration, and higher productivity. The Anderson model teaches stress management, emotional intelligence, assertive communication skills, and anger management techniques. Assertive communication frequently prevents misunderstandings that could lead to conflict, stress, and anger. Emotional intelligence helps employees work together more effectively and to recognize their own anger triggers. Stress is frequently a stepping stone—a half way step—to anger, so managing stress can also help prevent anger, as well as reducing employee “burnout” and work errors. Using anger management skills, an employee can control his or her behavior and clearly communicate needs in a socially appropriate manner, minimizing disruptions to work and morale.

If an employee acts out aggressively in the workplace, many companies will suspend him or her for several days. Suspension often does nothing to solve an anger problem. The employee now has additional financial stress, has been shamed, and the company must do without his or her labor. When the employee returns to work, he or she has no new skills, and may even harbor more resentment toward the company and co-workers! Clearly, suspension alone can worsen the situation and offers little to improve things.

Providing anger management training to that same employee, however, directly addresses the problem. It gives an employee the opportunity to develop the skills to control his or her behavior at work. During the class, the employee will become more self-aware and learn to better communicate. Any ongoing issues can then be better negotiated. This is a much better solution for company morale and productivity. As an additional bonus, skills learned in anger management often make family life run more smoothly, leaving the employee less distracted at work.

Anger management classes for non-offending employees can also benefit the company. Employees will benefit by lowering their stress levels, working together more effectively, and having energy available for work that had been spent on maintaining resentments and feuds. The assertive communication techniques may result in fewer arguments, mistakes, and better employee/supervisor relations.
Anger management training for supervisors and mangers can help them as individuals and give them better skills to manage difficult employees.

Furthermore, anger management programs have a positive impact on employee health, not just in terms of reducing stress, but also in reducing coronary disease. Anger management can be as effective as blood pressure medication in the treatment of high blood pressure. In a study of people who had already had one heart attack, it was found that those who had taken anger management had a 44% lower second heart attack rate.

By using anger management pro-actively, or even as an intervention, businesses can reduce their risk of employee violence, increase productivity, increase morale, and improve employee health.

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