UNH survey explores worker-boss relationship
A University of New Hampshire professor’s survey shows that employees who have a sense of unjustified entitlement are more likely to say their bosses are abusive and mistreat them.
The research also found that entitled employees were more likely to report higher levels of abuse from their managers, even when their less-entitled co-workers did not.
The research was conducted by Paul Harvey, associate professor of organizational behavior at UNH, and professors from Indiana University Southeast, the University of South Alabama and the University of Queensland, Australia.
Harvey said it can be a tough situation for managers, who might find that any critical feedback or unpopular decisions are met with heightened abuse perceptions, impairing their ability to conduct these difficult, but occasionally necessary, aspects of their jobs.
And the potential for entitlement-minded employees to take retaliatory action against a supervisor “might pose a threat to the careers and livelihoods of managers if it provokes abusive behaviors or causes employees to view legitimate managerial behaviors, such as giving constructive negative feedback, as abusive,” Harvey said.
Harvey said people who show “psychological entitlement” have unjustified positive self-perceptions and are reluctant to accept criticism that would undermine their rosy views of themselves. They can be selfish, narcissistic and believe that they deserve many more rewards and much more praise for their work than are warranted by their performance.
Harvey and his co-authors first queried 396 full-time employees about workplace abuse who, on average, had been with their company for seven years. A second survey asked the same questions, but included additional questions for a co-worker of each respondent. The second survey resulted in data on 81 pairs of employees and co-workers who had the same supervisor and who worked together for an average of about 21 hours a week.