The dark side? Fun in the workplace and unwanted sexual attention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine whether fun in the workplace inadvertently leads to greater incidences of unwanted sexual attention. Specifically, this research examined the relationship between three dimensions of fun and unwanted sexual attention – fun activities, coworker socializing and manager support for fun. Design/methodology/approach: Multiple regression was used to analyze survey data from three Qualtrics business panels. Findings: Fun activities were related to greater incidences of unwanted sexual attention, while manager support for fun was related to fewer instances. With respect to fun activities, mandatory attendance and holding the activities on nights and weekends were associated with further increased unwanted sexual attention. The presence of non-employees during activities was associated with fewer incidences. Research limitations/implications: The data on fun in the workplace and unwanted sexual attention were obtained at one point in time. Future research would be valuable that obtains data collected at multiple points in time to more fully substantiate cause-and-effect relationships. Practical implications: Employers may seek to foster a climate in which managers encourage employees to have fun on the job as well as one that explicitly focuses on preventing sexual harassment. Curbing unwanted sexual attention during fun activities may be facilitated by involving non-employees, refraining from holding activities at night and on weekends and keeping employee participation voluntary. Originality/value: From the perspective of fun in the workplace, this research has demonstrated fun activities may have unintended, adverse consequences. From the perspective of sexual harassment, this research has identified antecedents not typically be considered to be contributing factors of unwanted sexual attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1182
Number of pages21
JournalEmployee Relations
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 7 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Industrial relations
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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