Workplace Bullying: The Problem — and Its Costs — Are Worse Than We Thought

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For all the recent concern over teen bullying, large numbers of adults also deal with peer-to-peer intimidation, especially at work: Approximately one in four U.S. workers say they’ve been bullied on the job, according to the Workplace Bulling Institute.

Now comes word that the targets of workplace torment aren’t the only casualties of the phenomenon: A new study by Canadian researchers, published in the most recent issue of the journal Human Relations, suggests that co-workers who witness bullying are also traumatized by the phenomenon—and are as likely as victims themselves to look for a new job.
To understand the full effects of workplace bullying, researchers from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business went to a hotbed of the practice: the hospital floor. (While more than 60% of on-the-job bullies are men, according to the WBI, previous research has shown that nurses are especially prone to the practice.) Surveying several hundred nurses from several dozen units of a large Canadian health provider, the researchers determined which units and nurses were experiencing bullying as a significant problem. Meanwhile, they asked all the survey participants, regardless of their bullying experience, to assess their intentions to leave their jobs. (Intentions to quit have been shown to match up strongly with employees actually leaving jobs.)

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Not surprisingly, nurses who experienced bullying, directly or indirectly, were more likely to say they wanted to quit than those who didn’t. What was surprising, though, is that nurses who experienced no bullying or very little but who watched others being bullied were basically just as likely to say they wanted to quit as those where actually bullied. As the researchers wrote, “Merely working in a work unit with a considerable amount of bullying is linked to higher employee turnover intentions.”

The study’s authors—Marjan Houshmand, Jane O’Reilly, Sandra Robinson and Angela Wolff)—suggest that many of the non-bullied nurses who expressed an intention to quit were inclined to leave out of protest, the result of a kind of moral indignation. They refer, in fact, to the so-called “deontic model of justice,” which holds that people are motivated toward fairness and doing the right thing out of a sense of moral obligation as an end unto itself, i.e., simply because it’s fair and/or the right thing to do.

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That rings partially true, but it’s easy to imagine a few other good reasons for a stated intention to quit: First, a workplace where bullying is pervasive is almost certainly a poorly managed workplace, which is by any measure a good enough reason to quit (especially in a profession like nursing, where demand for skilled workers is high; and in a country like Canada, where unemployment is not as high as in the U.S.). Second, its quite likely that people who are watching colleagues get bullied are feeling at least a little guilty about not being able—or, perhaps, not even trying—to stop it. That’s another strong reason to think about looking for a new job. And third, at least some people must be thinking, What if I’m next? Better to get the heck out of Dodge than wait for the bully to turn on you.

But whatever the impetus for moving on, this study highlights the sometimes-ignored fact that bullying in the workplace isn’t just a moral problem, it’s a managerial and economic one too. Even in this economy, HR types throughout corporate America—and not least in the healthcare sector—spend a lot of time fretting about employee retention, looking for ways to incentivize their best workers to stick around. One way to do that, it seems, is to figure out how to incentivize the bullies among them not to.

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11 comments
DavidSmith
DavidSmith

Excessive bullying at work can certainly be unhelpful when trying to maintain an efficient, happy workplace.  How do you deal with bullying? http://bit.ly/workplace-survey if you wish to take our survey and learn the results

gatheringstorm2013
gatheringstorm2013

I have a family member who works in education in Western Mass in a large school district (right next to East Springfield) hint! and has been bullied at work for several years 

It is sick,  I came here just doing research on this issue.  People kill themselves over this.

Something needs to be done-I do not want to lose my sibling!

PRMG
PRMG

I agree with the author and the research presented here; especially on the point of non-bullied employees leaving an organization. 

I've worked in organizations where I've witnessed bullying and hazing both from the first day. All it has made me do is think to myself, "what have I gotten into here", and immediately begin looking for another job. 

In my experience, professional people will look for professional organizations to work for. A company that tolerates bullying is clearly unprofessional, in my opinion, and will certainly experience a high rate of turnover of good people. Soon, all that is left will be the bullies and the company will suffer. 

To me, its a clear management issue. If the leader/manger is not strong enough to stand up to the bullies and let them know it is not appropriate workplace behavior, then its time for a new boss. Or worse yet, the boss may be the bully or a part of the chaos. In any case, I subscribe to the saying that "there's no such thing as a bad team, only bad team leaders".

TJ60
TJ60

Workplace bullying is the theme of the day in numerous organizations. The purpose of the workforce has shift to drama, backstabbing, and endless gossip. I purchased this book Halo-Orangees employer-employee “one accord” Volume I One Mind, One Body, One Team Book at www.outskirtspress.com/HaloOra... this book is definitely a must read for any employer and/or employee. It is an easy read that will keep your attention. I liked how the author speaks about how we as individuals are the only one who can define who we are. She states to never allow anyone to tell you who you are or that you aren't good enough. The author gave an experience in the book of how an employer once told her that another employee was better than her. It states we are to never allow anyone to isolate you into workforce confinement or causing you to feel as if you inadequate. Confinement is not our destiny. This book causes you to think outside the box or that little box that employers or coworkers try to place you. There are real- life experiences that actually happen to people in the workplace in every chapter, there isn’t one boring chapter in this book. I cannot way to purchase Halo-Orangees next release.

facks
facks

Co-workers have been bullying me since minute one. Or at least trying to. Excessive monitoring, performing background (with my ss# supposedly), spreading rumors based on out-of-context information, sending people to my office with agendas and vendettas, and even accusing me of stealing both money and ideas. I recorded every single incident ad confiemd the identity of those responsible (but of course never accountable). Personnel manager won't do anything because he is a useless coward. Two years later and I have performed at my job beyond all expectations through the entire mess which has just exacerbated their incomprehensible disdain for me. I am very successful in spite of it, and that is how to stick it to these immature idiots. "If your enemy is of choleric temperment, seek to agitate him." - Tzu, Art of War. 

Some people just don't get it and are not intelligent enough to understand empathy. Maybe it is not their fault - can't fix faulty DNA. And if one day we can, I gladly will chair the committee to decide who gets altered.

facks
facks

Co-workers have been bullying me since minute one. Or at least trying to. Excessive monitoring, performing background checks (with my ss# supposedly), spreading rumors based on out-of-context information, sending people to my office with agendas and vendettas, and even accusing me of stealing both money and ideas. I recorded every single incident ad confiemd the identity of those responsible (but of course never accountable). Personnel manager won't do anything because he is a useless coward. Two years later and I have performed at my job beyond all expectations through the entire mess which has just exacerbated their incomprehensible disdain for me. I am very successful in spite of it, and that is how to stick it to these immature idiots. "If your enemy is of choleric temperment, seek to agitate him." - Tzu, Art of War.

Some people just don't get it and are not intelligent enough to understand empathy. Maybe it is not their fault - can't fix faulty DNA. And if one day we can, I gladly will chair the committee to decide who gets altered.

sarahadam7582
sarahadam7582

Workplace Bullying: If you want to know how bad it gets go to ;......=> FinancialsReports.blogspot.com and read about ALIANA'S CASE AGAINST DANA-FARBER CANCER INSTITUTERead more: DISCOVER THE TRUTH BEHIND... READ THIS ARTICLE  

caramellatte
caramellatte

Psychological abuse by employers and other employees has inflicted torturous psychological and ultimately physical pain against millions of employees. This is not only private. This negatively affects many businesses due to lost productivity. Logical common sense tells us that workers are more likely to function normally when being treated justly and respectfully. Ironically the workers who are most likely to be targeted in this way are the most intelligent, most dedicated, and hardest working of all. It’s appalling that there is no federal law against this very damaging behavior.  There is much documented research demonstrating that employers have not been able to successfully manage this problem.  A law must be enacted to curtail psychological abuse, just as there is a law against sexual abuse in places of employment. This type of abuse is far more common than sexual abuse, and perhaps much more damaging.

Many victims of this form of abuse suffer from PTSD. Many victims of this have experienced nightmares, being  easily suspicious of co-workers and supervisors, diplaying panic and anxiety when reminded of past traumatic situations, becoming highly angry, severe insomnia, extreme fear, etc.

crespin79
crespin79

 

Targets, victims and witnesses of bullying

have a few avenues to pursue (as compared with victims of sexual harassment)

when subject to repeated and obvious acts of aggression, spreading malicious

rumours, excluding someone socially or from certain projects, undermining or

impeding a person’s work or opinions, insulting a person’s habits, attitudes,

or private life and intruding upon a person’s privacy. Others include being

rude or belligerent, destroying property, assaulting an individual, or setting

impossible deadlines. Although bullying is recognized as detrimental to

occupational health, there is little political or corporate interest in

stopping it.

In

schoolyard bullying, the bullies are children, whose behaviour is controlled by

the leaders, i.e. the school administration. In workplace bullying, however,

the bullies are often the leaders themselves, i.e., the managers and

supervisors. Therefore, reporting a bully to the HR dept, for example, may expose

the target/victim to the risk of even more bullying, slower career advancement,

or even termination, on the grounds of being a “troublemaker!”.

Workplace bullying has severe consequences,

including reduced effectiveness and high employee turnover. An employee who

suffers any physical or psychiatric injury as a result of workplace bullying can

confront the bully, report the bully to the HR department or to the trade

union, if any, or bring a claim of negligence and/or a personal injury claim

against both the employer and the abusive employee as joint respondents in the

claim. If the law does not persuade employers to deal with workplace bullying,

the economic reality will persuade them. Training sessions can help when

combined with a confidential reporting structure, but it is difficult to alter

the basic nature of some individuals, who may need counselling.

Maxwell Pinto, Business Author

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr...