Workplace Bullying

BullyThere are many forms of bullying in the workplace, whether it happens to be a co-worker who “forgets” to share important information, a clique that spreads gossip or even a boss who humiliates subordinates. These are all definitions of a hostile work environment that no one should have to be subjected to. Intimidation, threats, and sabotage are also more examples of bullying. The worst type of bullying is harassment that has a lasting and profound effect on the target, according to Gary Namie, PhD, co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute and co-author of The Bully-Free Workplace.  All of these are just plain cruel to the bullied employee.

These instances might come in different forms.  If you have a workplace bully, they might focus on a specific target or a group of workers might single out a co-worker.  The more technology available today means that office cyberbullying is on the rise even though it is more often done face-to-face.  This behavior has different reasons for their behavior that might include trying to get ahead at work by sabotaging colleagues in an attempt to control them.  The workplace suffers from productivity, absenteeism and a high turnover of employees.

Those who are bullied end up with stress that can leave them unable to concentrate on their work and will put their jobs at risk.  When an employee suffers psychological distress it is linked to depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They might also have sleep disturbances and in some cases, even thoughts of suicide.  Not only does bullying create a hostile work environment, but it’s also a serious public health issue.

To deal with the workplace bullying the company policies and training of staff about behaviors that constitute bullying (including sexual harassment) need to be created and implemented. These are suggestions submitted by a 2016 literature review published in the Journal of Psychology Research and Behavior Management.  Even counseling or group therapy should be offered at the workplace.  These victims need to know that they are not alone, did not cause this and help is always available to them.

Some of the statistical numbers of are:

  • 56% of bullies are in positions of authority; just 18% of people who are bullied are bullied by peers.
  • 37 million Americans have been targets of abusive conduct at work.  More than 15 million have witnessed workplace bullying.
  • 60% of workplace bullies are men; 60% of targets of workplace bullying are women.
  • 11% of bullies were punished but kept their jobs; 15% quit or were terminated, per a 2014 study.

If this type of thing is going on in adult populated environments, what does this say for what the children of these people are probably learning at home?  This could be a behavioral problem in my personal opinion that could also affect their own children and their attitudes towards others. I have seen instances of school children being bullied and I have to wonder where the bullies learned this.  At home, naturally!

Dr Fredda Branyon