Why you care about workplace bullying
Bullying is fostered by your organization. Your organization’s culture, the management styles of your leaders and supervisors, and ineffective internal communication can foster bullies in your workplace.
Internal communication flow is disrupted and organizational goals cannot be met. Targets and witnesses of bullying avoid interactions with bullies as much as they can. Bullies use communication as a bullying tactic (e.g., withholding information needed) and are not great at interpersonal communication interactions either. That means targets and bullies are probably not communicating enough to do their jobs well.
Customer service is affected by workplace bullying. Targets of bullying, and bystanders (people who witness the bullying but don’t self-identify as targets) feel anxiety, discouragement and humiliation. That means sleepless nights, headaches, poor eating habits, and a wealth of health problems. If people are unhappy and unhealthy, they are not engaged in the excellent customer service your company no doubt desires. Not to mention one research study found that 11% of bullying is committed against customers.
Your company bottom line is affected by workplace bullying.Pioneering researcher Heinz Leymann estimated in his article, published in Violence and Victims in 1990, that a bully can cost a single business up to $100,000 per year per target in sick leave, reduction in work product, and time spent by management to intervene. Michael H. Harrison of Harrison Psychological Associates cited a study in the Orlando Business Journal that surveyed 9,000 federal employees. Of those surveyed, 57% reported they had been bullied over a two-year period, and the study estimated that these bullies had collectively cost their organizations more than $180 million. The American Psychological Association estimated that bullying and other types of abusive behaviors cost businesses $300 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism and turnover, as well as in increased medical costs.
The business case for a healthy workplace
Organizations with healthy workplace cultures have employees that get along. When employees have healthy relationships with one another, they make better decisions, are more innovative, and learn more. That translates into employee engagement, and when you have engaged and loyal employees you have reduced turnover and absenteeism. Reduced turnover means better quality and quantity of work, and better customer service. Better work and happy customers means meeting organizational goals, and that means bottom line results!
We have provided some resources below to help you do just that. These articles, worksheets and assessments will provide more information about bullying and help you make a business-case for ending bullying in your workplace.
Step 2: Read these selected articles on workplace bullying to gain some basic information about bullying and the damage it causes your organization:
- Bullies in the workplace: A focus on the “abusive disrespect” of employees. Teresa A. Daniel, Society for Human Resources Management Whitepaper
- Employers can’t ignore workplace bullies. Karen E. Klein, Business Week
- One rude worker poisons a whole office, study finds. The Ottawa Citizen
- Workers who witness bullying have strong urge to quit
- Mistreatment, The Conference Board Review
- Successful Learning Organizations Understand the Power of Positive Workplaces, Featured in Jim Kirkpatrick’s eNewsletter
Step 7: Purchase the book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work. Although written for targets of workplace bullying, this book will provide a wealth of information about bullying, and Chapter 7 offers 18 ways bullies damage the organization. (You may need that information to make a business case for addressing bullying to decision-makers.)