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Watch Your Back: Study Shows 44 Percent of U.S. Workers Seek Revenge at Work

Topics: Work Culture
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If I were you, I’d keep a close eye on Debbie from accounting; According to a new study, more than four in ten people have sought workplace revenge.

Ever had a colleague throw you under the bus in a meeting, or had a manager reprimand you for a trivial mistake? Ever laid awake at night, scheming and plotting how you’ll eventually get even? Then, have you waited for exactly the right moment to exact your revenge? If so, you’re not alone. A new study from Insurance Quotes revealed that roughly 44 percent of U.S. workers have admitted to getting revenge in the workplace.

“Ah, Kirk, My old friend. Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold… in space.” – Khan Noonien Singh, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”

As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” And while it’s always best to practice restraint and forgiveness, and to find ways to amicably resolve workplace conflict – particularly if you want to work in a friendly, cohesive office – taking your revenge upon a colleague who has wronged you can be, oh, so satisfying.

According to the report, 45 percent of senior managers say they have taken revenge on a colleague, the highest of any position surveyed. On the other hand, only 36 percent of entry-level workers, reported taking revenge at work.

This makes sense because, it “may be easier for higher-level employees to seek revenge because they have more ways of negatively affecting the employees under them. To seek revenge on an upper-level position, one may have to find subtler ways not to risk job loss,” says the report.

“Revenge should have no bounds.” – Hamlet (4.7.143)

Interestingly, workers at opposite ends of the annual income scale seem to be most likely to seek revenge on their colleagues. Those making less than $15,000 a year and those making $75,000 or more were equally likely to attempt some form of retribution, with 45 percent of people in each group reporting they were, “very or definitely likely to take revenge for various reasons.”

And, as if taken directly from the script of “Silicon Valley”, workers in the tech industry were most likely to take revenge, with 46 percent reporting that they had engineered some sort of reckoning. According to Insurance Quotes, “Getting revenge may be so popular in (tech) that a Reddit page was created for employees to dish out the details of stories often relating to getting back at others.”

Workers in the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Industries reported the lowest level of revenging, at only 27 percent. (Marketing and Advertising workers reported the second-lowest level of revenge taking: 29 percent. That’s great news for me; My colleagues will never see it coming…. Looking at you, Matt.)

“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” – Romans 12:19

The most popular way to take revenge at the office was pretty lame – “(Causing) a purposeful decline in the quality or quantity of (my) work” – but a few of the stories collected by Insurance Quotes showcase some pretty toxic work environments. Among them: “A subordinate spread false rumors about me sleeping with my best friend’s husband, so I spread rumors regarding their addiction to crack cocaine.” Dang! Take it easy, people!

If you do take revenge at work, it seems that odds are you’ll get away with it. According to the report, 83 percent of people who took workplace revenge got away scot-free. Only 11 percent of workers who took revenge were fired.


Ever sought revenge at work? We want to hear about it! Share your stories with our community on Twitter, or leave your comment below.

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