Ostracism in the Workplace

Joe from marketing enters the office and rushes past the new guy to greet his buddies with a happy slap on the back. Shelly from accounting, with her dearth of sporting enthusiasm, doesn’t get invited to the fantasy hockey league. Mark finds Jake so intolerable that he outright ignores the guy. It all seems innocuous enough; these are the fabric of some seemingly unremarkable day-to-day office interactions. But while victims silently suffer this kind of ostracism, a physical and emotional toll builds.

For University of Ottawa professor Jane O’Reilly, these kind of behaviours need to be addressed to improve the lives and well-being of employees everywhere. “When my research was published, a number of strangers reached out to me to offer their own personal stories of experiencing workplace ostracism,” she tells me. “I knew that ostracism is painful, but their stories gave me a striking sense of just how painful it is to experience.”

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