Jealousy and envy are closely related but jealousy is usually when you wish you had something someone else has got eg a pay rise,or a plum project, and envy is when you haven’t got it and when you wish they hadn’t either.
Envy is about feeling inferior, being resentful, and wishing ill-will to others. It also tends to be more about being competitive.
Jealousy can also be aspirational or inspirational in encouraging you to better yourself so that you can also achieve what the other person has.
Research in USA by Professor Robert Vecchio suggests that 3 out of 4 people have witnessed jealousy at work and up to 50% of people have become involved in it in some way.
People who are more envious of others at work are more likely to be the ones who use “social loafing” (not pulling their weight) to even up the score. They are also more likely to be looking for other jobs.
People with a strong work ethic who are sensitive to work issues are more likely to get emotional about them as much as people with low self-esteem who think work is all about being competitive.
Generally woman are more likely to be jealous about social relationships; men to envy others in a competitive way.
Lack of consideration by supervisors can lead to jealousy and it is more likely to happen in a small office. People who work in large offices tend to assume that unequal treatment is because of bureaucratic inefficiency.
If you are the object of jealousy or envy:
- Focus on the good things in your job (count your blessings) to bolster your self-esteem
- Be humble – don’t flaunt your success
- Don’t get involved in the drama
- Help others to achieve and be as successful as you
There are also things organisations can do:
- Create more of a team culture
- Encourage cooperation rather than competition through incentives
- Encourage a more participative style of leadership – encouraging input
- Recruit emotionally mature people
- Use high achievers as role models, mentors or coaches
And the office romance? Jealousy about sex or romance is a 3-way relationship; the focus of your attention plus the rival, which can produce feelings of loss, distrust or betrayal. But that’s a different posting.