Venting at Work Can Sometimes Be Good

If work is terrible, the office is probably the last place you should talk about how terrible it is. That doesn't stop us from complaining to our friends, whether it's in the break room, the bathroom, or the bar at happy hour. Not every tough part of a job is office drama, though, and a new study shows how formalizing the process could be a big help for employees.

Researchers in the U.K. looked at a program for health care workers called Schwartz Center Rounds, in which staffers discuss their workplace emotional, social, or ethical challenges with each other once a month. By creating a safe space to work through and air these issues together, participants saw a significant drop in psychological distress. Lead researcher Jill Malben, of the University of Surrey, said in a press release, "[T]heir symptoms of anxiety and depression are reduced, they are better able to cope with the issues they face, and [they] have more empathy towards patients and colleagues, which undeniably has a positive impact on those in their care."

Health care professionals are an extreme case, given that their stressors are intense every day and their own stress levels can mean life or death for their patients and clients. But in a more widespread way, offices might consider establishing programs in which employees can safely and openly talk about doubts, worries, failures, and ideas for improvement within their work. Handled properly, it might cut down on gripes and venting about management too.