The Relationship between the social environment of work and workplace mistreatment
Michael Thomas Sliter, Steve Jex, Paula Grubb
While a great deal of research has investigated employee reactions to mistreatment, considerably fewer studies have investigated how the social environment in the workplace contributes to both 1.) the prevalence of mistreatment, and 2.) employee reactions when mistreatment occurs. In the present study we investigate three important components of the social environment of organizations—perceptions of organizational justice, the extent to which people within the organization generally treat each other with respect, and the level of social support with the organization—and show how these relate to the prevalence of both verbal aggression and social undermining. In addition to testing these relations, we test a mediational model whereby these components of the social environment are related to employee strain. More specifically, we propose that workplace mistreatment mediates the relation between these components of the social environment and employee strain. Data from the 2004 General Social Survey (GSS) supported the proposed relations between all three social environment components and the two forms of mistreatment. Furthermore, mediated regression analyses showed that mistreatment mediated the relation between perceived level of respect and all measures of strain. These results suggest that the social environment of the workplace may play a role in employee mistreatment and contribute, at least indirectly, to employee strain.