Date of Award

Summer 7-30-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Sally Evans, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

April Collett, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Paul Rux, Ph.D.


Worker tenure in this country averages 4.5 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Stressful work environments cause loss productivity and profitability to companies and a diminished well-being and ill health to employees. Why, then, do some employees remain working in difficult environments despite the dangers to health? This phenomenological study researches reasons employees continued to work for longer than five years in difficult environments. Discussed are impacts of difficult environments on employees and the negative health repercussions experienced. These negative effects are also experienced in organizations through turnover, lower productivity, and reduced profitability. This study incorporates factors of toxic environments on well-being, the effect of corporate culture on employees, the change in employee vision of the workplace and the idea of free agents, generations in the workplace, and Systems Thinking. Elements of the Person-Environment Fit Theory were used to build the foundation and analyze the data.

The research identified three industries considered difficult in which to work – outdoor work, manufacturing, and restaurant. The phenomenological study analyzes the responses of 25 participants employed at ten different companies deemed difficult workplaces and seeks to determine why they remained in those workplaces for longer than five years. Industries represented included two companies in the outdoor work category, three companies in the manufacturing category, and five restaurants.