What is it about?

Difficult coworkers can be found in almost every workplace, including public and private organizations. This paper investigates the effects of difficult coworkers on employees’ responses including intention to leave and mental health through attitude towards difficult coworkers and perceived stress in public organizations. Using responses from 307 public sector employees in Macao SAR, we found that difficult coworkers significantly influenced their coworkers’ attitude towards them while perceived stress partially mediated the relationship between employees’ attitudes towards difficult coworkers and intention to leave. Nevertheless, employees’ attitudes towards difficult coworkers did not have a significant effect on mental health.

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Why is it important?

Our findings showed that difficult coworkers were mainly characterized by bossiness, followed by unprofessional behavior, lording power, busy body, and incompetence in Macao's public organizations. Difficult coworkers significantly influenced peers' negative attitude towards them, in turn causing work stress and turnover intention.


Everyone has his/her story about difficult coworker(s). Yet the effects of difficult coworkers on workplace environment remain largely unexplored in the public administration and management literature. We hope that our study will stimulate future research on difficult coworkers and encourage people to have an open and pro-active discussion about what constitutes "proper" interpersonal and professional behaviors.

Professor W.M. To
Macao Polytechnic University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Effects of Difficult Coworkers on Employees’ Responses in Macao’s Public Organizations—The Mediating Role of Perceived Stress, Administrative Sciences, December 2021, MDPI AG, DOI: 10.3390/admsci12010006.
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