Workplace Bullying as Prevalent as Domestic Abuse

One of the speakers in a workplace forum held in New Zealand, which was conducted by CultureSafe, said that workplace bullying is just as prevalent as domestic violence.  Robyn Hutchison is a promoter of employees taking a stand after she experienced an unjustified dismissal in May 2011.  Hutchinson even won the employment case she filed against her former employer over the dismissal.

She went on to state that at least one in five employees experience being bullied at work.  Hutchinson added that the prevalence of work place bullies in organizations stems from the reluctance of victims to stand up against the bullying and to speak out.  Similar to how victims of domestic violence deal with their situations, some may be hesitant to let other people know of the abusive behavior they encounter at home.  The same can be said for employees who were bullied at work.  Most of the time, bullied employees chose to remain silent and tried their best to cope with the situation.

However, this has a negative effect on bully victims, not only in terms of their productivity at work, it also impacts their health, both mentally and physically.  In worst cases, it can also lead to the victim contemplating thoughts of suicide.

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Workplace bullying is an ever present reason why people leave their jobs

Many research and studies have pointed out how damaging workplace bullying is to the organization and the employees.  It not only affects productivity and company profits, it also impacts the bullying victim’s health.

Employees who experienced being bullied at work would sometimes opt to stay and try to cope with the negative working environment.  However, a few employees would rather leave the organization and the work place bully behind.  A research conducted by the National Anti-Bullying Centre at Dublin City University supported this and showed that nearly all of the cases filed with the Employment Appeals Tribunal involved workplace bullying.

In many of the cases taken under Dublin’s Unfair Dismissals Act, the complainants shared that they felt forced to quit their jobs because of the bully boss or colleague.  This is rather disheartening to learn, however, it is a stark reality that most employees face at the work.  Workplace bullying has become prevalent in many organizations and although many companies have adopted policies to address the issue, there are still instances when bullying happens.

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A workplace bullying victim’s advice to other bullied employees: ‘Learn to speak up, speak loud’

More and more victims of workplace bullying are coming out and sharing their stories.  Some even become advocates of anti-workplace bullying programs, while a few have maximized the wide reach of the internet to share words of wisdom to other victims.

An Australian employee who used to work in a bottle shop in Toowoomba mustered up enough courage to share his story in the Chronicle and also encouraged other people who experienced being bullied at work, to “speak up” and “speak loud.”  This was what he learned to do as he previously went through verbally abusive days, harassment, mob bullying and discrimination.

The bully victim also questioned the six month time frame in filing bullying claims in Australia, stating that the effect of workplace bullying doesn’t only last within that period.  It goes on well after the negative experience happened and something that may very well haunt the victim all throughout his or her life.

In the article, the workplace bullying victim stressed that other people who witnessed the work place bully or bullies behaving negatively should also take a stand and that people should not tolerate it.  The impassioned call for action is very timely given the rising number of workplace bullying.  Needless to say, the abusive behavior of bullies is also very damaging, not only to the victims but to the organization as well, as it will ultimately affect productivity and company profits.

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Workplace bullying is very costly but it doesn’t get noticed

We’ve often heard how workplace bullying can cost a company hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, despite its impact on an organization’s budget, the cases of employees being bullied at work sometimes remain unnoticed.

According to an Office Team research more than a quarter of HR managers say they think workplace bullying occurs at least somewhat often in their companies.  The Office Team study also indicated that one in three employees admit they had a work place bully in their organizations.  Employees who are bullied at work sometimes become distracted because of the negative working environment.  It affects their productivity and often leads to low morale.

Bert Alicea, a licensed psychologist as well as Vice President of EAP and work/life services at Health Advocate, said that a company can lose tens of thousands of dollars due to absenteeism, lost productivity, lost stress-related issues and other concerns brought about by workplace bullying.  Aside from these factors, having a bully in the workplace can also contribute to high turnover, which in turn, results to higher recruitment costs.  There is also a possibility of a company losing a key talent or high performer because of an office bully.

Having clear policies and zero tolerance for bullying and harassment are critical factors in ensuring that workplace bullying problems are properly addressed. Implementing workplace bullying prevention training programs for the employees and supervisors will also help to spread more awareness about the issue.

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The boss needs to stand up against bullying too!

Chief Executive Officer, Company President or Business Head are just some of the position titles that top honchos in organizations hold.  These individuals are the top decision makers in companies, what they decide to do can make or break organizations. They are responsible for many things such as the growth of the company, ensuring positive profit levels are achieved and attending to other business related issues.  However, one area which some bosses don’t notice or prioritize, is creating a positive work culture that is a conducive to productivity.

It doesn’t matter whether the size of the business that a boss is handling is huge or small, these top decision makers should also ensure that the working environment in their companies are positive, and that includes dealing with workplace bullying.  Unfortunately there are some bosses who are also afraid of confronting the bully or are turning a blind eye to the negative behaviors.  Some may even think that if they don’t address the problem, then the persons involved in the abusive situation would sort things out on their own.  However, this is the wrong approach.

Bosses who are involved in creating a positive culture at work or advocates of anti-workplace bullying stand to gain more from employees.  This ultimately will affect the business since employees who are not subjected to a toxic working environment are more creative and productive.  This is just one of the important responsibilities that business owners or top bosses should place importance on and not just company profits.

To borrow a phrase from Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”’


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Fight workplace bullying with education and a culture of accountability

The medical profession is one of the industries where workplace bullying is most prevalent.  From doctors, nurses and medical staff, instances where a healthcare professional is bullied at work is reportedly rampant.

Addressing bullying at work is a challenging and complex process.  According to experts, dealing with workplace bullying requires a multi-pronged approach which includes education and fostering a culture of accountability.  Workplace bullying is not only the responsibility of HR professionals, everybody in the organization has a part to play in ensuring that it does not happen at work.  Ensuring that bullying in the healthcare industry is dealt with is especially critical since it could ultimately affect the patients.

Employees who experience being bullied at work are less productive and become distracted given the negative working environment.  Medical professionals who become targets of a work place bully may not be able to properly attend to the patients or tasks that require their utmost concentration.  It is scary to think what damage could be done given the distracted attention of a medical staff.

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What are the best practices in dealing with work place bullies?

Workplace bullying is becoming prevalent in many organizations.  The abusive behavior is displayed not only by bully bosses, but employees can also experience it from co-workers.

A study conducted by Office Team indicated that 35 percent of the 600 employees and HR professionals they surveyed had a bully in the workplace.  Those that experienced being bullied at work would sometimes get confused on how to handle the situation.

Some victims would opt to confront the workplace bully.  However there are a few who chose to remain silent and learn to cope with the situation.  Unfortunately, being exposed to a negative working environment raises the stress levels of bullied employees.  The abusive working conditions can also push an employee to leave the organization.  The Office Team survey showed that 13 percent chose to quit their jobs because of workplace bullying.

So, how can an employee deal with workplace bullying?  Having an open discussion with the bully is one option.  Sometimes, the bullies are not aware that their negative behaviors made a huge impact on other people.  A key item also is for business owners to foster a positive culture at work and have zero tolerance for workplace bullying and harassment.

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Not Sure if You’re a Bully at Work? Take this Quiz to Find Out

At school, the bullies we know are those that would take away our lunch or push everybody around in the playground.  Some would spread rumors about you or even have you do everything from homework to odd little jobs, such as getting drinks or snacks.

In the workplace, many bullies are not as obvious in their behaviors.  A bully at work may even be very subtle about the bullying.  It can come in various forms, in which co-workers may not even realize that they are being bullied at work, unless the situation happens repeatedly or results to the victim feeling belittled.

There are also instances where some co-workers become bullies at the workplace without them knowing it.  The negative bullying behavior need not be as obvious as shouting at the other person or humiliating them in front of several employees.  Adopting a domineering attitude at work and forcing everyone to do things your way, is a sign that you’re a bully or becoming one already.

This simple quiz is a helpful self-assessment tool for people to check whether they are or could be a possible contributor to workplace bullying.  It is especially helpful for employees who are wondering whether some of their behaviors are bordering on being too controlling at work or if they are contributing to a positive working environment.

To take the quiz and find out the results, click here.

It’s a ‘Warzone’ Office for Office Bullies

According to the article ‘Office Bullies Create Workplace ‘Warzone”, the victims of workplace bullying uses the word ‘warzone’ as a metaphor of what was happening to them in their workplaces.  They described their experiences as a battle, water torture, a nightmare or a noxious substance.   These metaphor description comes out from the interview of 17 women and 10 men employees ranging from 26 to 72 years of age.

The respondents characterized workplace bullying in many other metaphors, here are some: “I have been maimed… I’ve been character assassinated.” Their feelings is expressed as “beaten, abused, ripped, broken, scared and eviscerated“.  One employee explained, “I feel like I have ‘kick me’ tattooed on my forehead.”

An office might look professional to anybody’s perspective but it is not excluded from the fact that bullies can also be found in here.  Only professional looking.  They vary from screaming boss to silent treatment colleagues.  They do whatever want, whenever they can.  The act of workplace bullying is includes screaming, spreading gossips, destroying reputation, excessive criticism and sometimes physical abusive is also being experienced.  That is just the non-subtle behavior description.  Bullying can also be on a subtle attack, these are the silent treatment and excluding you from meetings and other office gatherings.

Bully proofing the workplace is shortly explained in the article.  Read the full article at link.

Reduce Challenges to Prevent Workplace Violence

Workplace violence has been occurring over the recent years, serious injuries and deaths have been risen dangerously.  Remember the August 26 shooting on live TV, two journalists was shot down by their former co-worker. It is said that active shooting incidents have increased over the years, from 2000 to 2006 it averaged from 6.4 annually, and rose up to 16.4 average annually from 2007 to 2013.

Threats and bodily harm to co-workers falls in the definition of workplace violence. More definition includes an assault, intimidating act, bringing weapons into the workplace and stalking. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s General Duty Clause, employers should provide a safe and healthy working environment for all employees. It is a requirement. Employers should take necessary steps to ensure that their employees are safe and workplace violence should be minimized if not prevented completely.

The first step to lessen workplace violence is to identify the possible signs of violence.  Assessment and security analysis should be done to pin point risk factors.

Next step, is creating a policy regarding anti-violence program.  This policy should consider all workers and anyone who may interact with the company personnel.  Also, furnish necessary details of non-compliance of the policy.

Since policy is already written, providing training to the workforce is the most effective way to reach the set policy.  Training such as how to recognize the earliest stages of workplace violence and how to report these issues.  Moreover, include training on how to protect oneself if workplace violence happens.

Once complaints against workplace violence are already raised, the employers should investigate the matter immediately.  Develop corresponding actions once conclusions are finalized.  Implement corrective controls aside from implementing policies over workplace violence.

Evaluate everything steps from identifying risk to developing and implementing necessary precautions.  These procedures may not stop the totality of workplace violence, abusive conduct, but minimizing it is a helpful step.  Organizations, employers should find ways how to reduce these challenges and prevent workplace violence.