Karen Hoskins

11 April 2016

Managing workplace anger

I recently spoke to Dr Victoria Simon, PhD, MFT, a Los Angeles based forensic psychologist and the founder of JustUs ( and asked her whether anger management is part of health, safety and wellbeing - and if it can help to create a healthy, positive culture within a safer workplace.

"Human emotions are not only unavoidable," noted Dr Simon, "they are an essential part of peak performance in the workplace.

"Even conflict and anger can be productive within a corporate culture that sets limits with destructive behaviours and helps employees harness emotions in healthy, ethical ways. Past approaches to handling anger in the workplace have ignored or escalated problems, but today we see many organisations shifting toward a two-pronged approach to creating a healthy workplace culture."

According to Dr Simon, greater emphasis on hiring and training has led to improved satisfaction and performance. "Companies are learning to hire with care and to provide individuals with the tools, resources, support and training to accomplish their jobs," she observed. "This kind of training and support allows individuals to be more autonomous and self-motivating which, in turn, increases independent self-regulation.

"Companies are also increasingly courageous in their willingness to address dysfunctional systems and/or office relationships, working directly with employees who handle their anger inappropriately. Helping these individuals to understand the impact of their disruptive behaviours and providing training for constructive strategies to cope becomes a win-win for the individual and the organisation. Providing guidance to resolve problematic workplace behaviors prevents disrupted teamwork, low morale, decreased productivity and many other costs of workplace anger."

Dr Simon concluded that employee satisfaction has a significant impact on the bottom line, noting: "By creating a culture of support and empowerment – while also ensuring a healthy emotional environment – both individuals and companies are able to reach their full performance potential."

I believe that by managing workplace anger and disruptive behaviours we can impact significantly upon health, mental health and safety in the workplace, as employees are more able to concentrate and focus on safe behaviours and safe systems of work in the workplace.

Let's also not forget the significant benefits for employees at work who experience decreased stress and anxiety as a result of improved workplace culture, and of course there are corporate social responsibility (CSR) benefits too.

Karen Hoskins MIIRSM RSP, Tech IOSH, managing director, IBIS Solutions