Disruptive jealousy, the hidden cost of business
When jealousy exists at work, gossip is usually a part of the
resulting problem. Employees gossip about workplace relationships, often
making negative remarks about co-workers or bosses they dislike or envy.
Such envy makes the workplace a battle zone where negative emotions and
animosity run wild.
As certain employees attain good fortune at work, other employees
might experience jealousy. Jealousy in the workplace can occur as
envious glances, unpleasant comments or attempts to sabotage the
If left unchecked, such behaviour may result in a discontented work
environment. Whether you're the jealous person or the target of such
behaviour, overcoming it is necessary to maintain a positive workplace
Jealousy stems from negative feelings, it's not without consequences,
which might include reduced performance, withdrawal, job dissatisfaction
and stress. The cost of jealousy to the business driven by waste of time
and lack of cooperation among team members can be severe though there is
no perfect science to quantify it.
Although jealousy is generally a disruptive emotion, it is OK
sometimes. For example, your co-worker's success can prompt you to work
even harder to realise your full potential. Instead of becoming mired in
jealousy, you look at the successful person as a role model which
motivates you to improve yourself. If you were unfairly passed over for
a promotion, it can cause you to consider your job-satisfaction level,
and if applicable, do something about it.
If you're at the receiving end of jealousy, how you handle it
determines your future with the company. By maintaining a high level of
awareness, you can detect an employee who shows signs of jealousy and
possibly defuse it.
For example, when a disgruntled employee shows signs of dislike
towards you, try to squash his jealousy before it blossoms into
full-blown resentment. Acknowledge his positive qualities, give him
credit where it's due and stay humble about your achievements.
Refrain from displaying jealousy towards your co-workers because
jealousy is often easily recognisable by others. If you display negative
behaviour towards your colleagues, they might feel justified in treating
you the same way. Try to be happy for others and refrain from measuring
their success against yours.
Mitigating the issue
There may be times when an employee is bent on destroying your good
fortune. Try to counter his efforts by not adding fuel to the fire. For
example, if he gossips about you, don't respond by spreading rumours
about him. Instead, ignore him and try to be a pleasant and hardworking
If he slanders you, sabotages your work, grows confrontational, or
becomes an obstacle to your productivity, keep a journal of each
offence. Write down the date, time and details of each offence. Gather
as much proof as possible before reporting the issue to your manager or
human resources department.
Proof may include offensive emails that he sent you and any witnesses
to his confrontational attitude.
Keep in mind that it's your word against his, and he might be
gathering evidence against you. Therefore, always conduct yourself in a
While you may be tempted to hurl insults at the person who was
trash-talking you, firing back will only diminish your professionalism.
Take the high road. Avoiding unnecessary interactions with jealous
colleagues can help defuse a hostile work environment.
If the situation gets to a point where your productivity suffers,
it's time to do something about it. However, it's imperative to pick the
right words and use the right tone. The best way to approach your
co-worker is in a non-aggressive manner.
Address him or her with specific concerns instead of accusations of
jealousy. Promote open communication in the workplace. Treat all
employees fairly with no favouritism. Put high performers in mentor
roles, which make them targets of admiration rather than envy.