Spanish public-sector workers complain most about their work environment

Jul 01, 2010
Spanish public sector workers complain most about their work environment. Credit: SINC

Spanish employees from public institutions and companies report higher levels of psychological violence in their place of work than their Finnish counterparts. These are the results of a study headed by the University of Valencia, which reveals that workers' prime complaints are to do with professional burnout, maltreatment and sexual abuse.

"We compared the prevalence of dysfunctional behaviour between employees of public institutions (courts, penal, health and educational institutions, police forces, old people's homes, etc.) in two very dissimilar cities - Valencia (Spain) and Vaasa (Finland)", María José Báguena, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Valencia, tells SINC. "The results confirm our hypothesis - Spanish complain more".

The authors, who are scientists from the University of Valencia and the University of Vaasa, used the Psychosocial Wellbeing Index (PWI) to evaluate professional burnout, bullying and sexual abuse among 1,055 Spanish and 1,979 Finnish public sector workers.

The results, published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, show the Spanish workers reported higher percentages of all kinds of psychological violence than the Finnish ones, except for bullying. However, the authors say the difference was greater than expected.

"Although it is possible that the results reflect cultural differences, since Spanish people are more prone to complaining, the results also reveal the true workplace atmosphere in Spain", they explain.

When broken down by sex, Finnish men complained more about workplace conflict than women. In Spain, men and women were equally likely to complain, except in relation to , where women are the prime target.

According to Báguena, "we need more studies to show whether these results can be generalised, or if they are simply relate to a particular kind of worker".

Large differences in Europe

At the start of 2000, the prevalence of bullying at work affected 9% of workers in the countries of the European Union (not including the new member states). A study carried out in 2003 by Di Martino et al. revealed the fluctuations in this 9% average in different countries.

The highest percentages (between 15%-12%) were seen in the countries of northern Europe (Finland, Sweden, Holland, United Kingdom) and the lowest (5%-4%) in those of the south (Spain, Greece, Portugal). "Although cultural differences have an impact on these disparities, the results in Spain have worsened", points out Báguena.

While Finland is one of the Nordic countries most renowned for its quality of life, and is a pioneer in the study of workplace behaviour, Spain is felt to be more rigid, and the language does not even have its own words for concepts such as bullying or burnout, instead using the English terms.

Explore further: Less privileged kids shine at university, according to study

Provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bullies have harassed 14 percent of workers over past 6 months

Jun 04, 2009

avid Gonzalez and Jose Luis Grana have carried out a comprehensive study into the phenomenon of workplace abuse or bullying in Spain. The study includes data on 2,861 workers from various sectors, and confirms some commonly-held ...

Study: Workplace aggression commonplace

Jan 18, 2006

A McMaster University study indicates 47 million U.S. residents are victims of workplace aggression, with the general public the primary source of abuse.

Anti-smoking law helps waiters to quit smoking

Sep 10, 2009

Researchers from the Catalan Institute of Oncology have studied the impact of the law banning smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants on those working in these places. The results are positive ...

Spanish prostitutes least likely to use condoms

May 28, 2009

The Centre for Epidemiological Studies into Sexually-Transmitted Diseases and AIDS in Catalonia (CEEISCAT) started a pioneering study in Spain in 2005 to look into the prevalence of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) among ...

Energy consumption makes Spanish forestry unsustainable

Sep 11, 2009

Spain is one of the leading European countries, along with Sweden, in terms of wood production for paper paste, but this uses large amounts of energy. Spanish and Swedish scientists have compared the environmental ...

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

Dec 18, 2014

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

Dec 18, 2014

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

How to teach all students to think critically

Dec 18, 2014

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.