Employees who were bullied may find less sympathy from other bullied victims

Typically, people may think that the best person to approach about a problem or a traumatic situation would be someone who went through a similar experience.  Individuals going through a rough break up or divorce would usually go to a person who also experienced it.  The same goes for employees who were bullied at work.  The premise is, since they’ve been through a similar situation, then they would be more sympathetic and offer advice on how to deal with the matter.

However, a research conducted by Ruttan, Loran Nordgren, an associate professor of management and organizations at Kellogg, and Mary-Hunter McDonnell of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that people who endured a similar experience would be less likely to show compassion and empathize with others with the same hardship.

The team conducted a series of experiential experiments to look at how people reacted to certain situations.  One of the studies they did was on how previous employees who experienced workplace bullying reacted or felt towards a person who has been having a hard time dealing with bullying.  The Kellogg study also explored whether people who were previously unemployed felt compassion towards individuals who are currently unemployed.  Both studies showed that those who experienced the situation, be it bullying or work challenges, are less likely to empathize with people who are going through a similar hardship.

This is very interesting and can be used as a guiding principle when building programs to support bullying victims or even training or mentoring activities.

To learn more about the research findings, click here to read the full article.

Companies beware: Inappropriate comments on social media may constitute as workplace bullying

Let’s face it… today’s world is filled with high tech devices and gadgets, as well as programs or applications that can keep everybody connected to everyone else.  People use social media to let their followers know what they’re up to, their thoughts about a topic, situation or even another person.  It may be a blessing to be technically close to other people, but it also comes with some disadvantages especially to employees who became a victim of a work place bully.

A recent case brought forward by a bullied employee to the Fair Work Commission, cited an act of unfriending in Facebook by a colleague as one of the bullying behaviors which helped to support her plea.   The Commission found that the act constituted bullying given the circumstances surrounding the case.  This serves as a reminder to other organizations to ensure that they inform their employees, as well as the leaders, on appropriate online behavior when it comes to managing their private social media accounts.

Anna Casellas, a partner at Clayton Utz, said that inappropriate social media behavior has played an increasing factor in several bullying and dismissal cases in the past three years.  Such cases presented to labor courts or tribunals considered cyber bullying at work and off work as relevant instances to support unfair dismissal claims or workplace bullying cases. However, Casellas clarified that the recent bullying case brought forward to the Fair Work Commission should not be taken as a precedent, wherein an act of Facebook unfriending is considered in itself a form of bullying.  It is still important to view and understand other extenuating and mitigating factors surrounding the case, before inappropriate online comments or behaviors may be considered as evidence of bullying.

To read more about the rise of improper social media behaviors in workplace bullying cases, click here.

Workplace Bullying Hurts Both the Employee and Company


There’s a saying that bullies in the workplace are the same bullies one would have encountered at school, only much older.  In today’s competitive job market and working environment, more and more employees have become victims of work place bullies.  A nationwide survey sponsored by the Workplace Bullying Institute indicated that 27 percent of workplace respondents said that they were bullied at work, while another 21 percent reported to having witnessed a co-worker being abused or bullied in the workplace.

Needless to say, workplace bullying is painful for employees who became a victim of a work place bully.   Being subjected to humiliating situations and abusive bully behaviors are also detrimental to a person’s mental health.  In worst cases, it can even lead to suicide.

Addressing the issue of workplace bullying is not an easy task.  However, it is imperative for companies to learn how to deal with bullying and avoid such instances from happening in their organizations.  Turning a blind eye to such negative behaviors and not imposing policies covering bullying or having programs on anti-bullying, will eventually affect the company’s bottomline, productivity and employee retention.

What’s critical is for the organization’s leaders to accept accountability and have ownership over the issue, in order to combat workplace bullying.

To read more about the subject, click here.

Here’s a Simple Principle on How to Tackle Being Bullied at Work

There’s this interesting article written by Elizabeth Cotton in The Conversation, where she listed down a simple principle, along with practical steps that a worker can follow in their battle against workplace bullying.  Cotton’s article is set against the backdrop of an endemic culture of bullying in the medical field, but the tips that she mentioned cuts across industries and generations.

One of the points that Cotton raised is that everyone has a hand in bullying.  It’s not only the work place bully or the victim who are involved, but other people who witnessed the abusive behavior contribute to the situation.  This reportedly includes politicians who would cut budget meant to launch programs to deal with bullying.  Whatever the role may be, Cotton said we all play a part in making bullying an established norm at work.

The article went on to describe how bullying works and some of the coping mechanisms that victims would typically follow such as withdrawal or joining forces with other people with the hope that it would afford some form of protection against the bullying.  What’s interesting is Cotton’s simple principle on how to deal with bullying at work.  Cotton wrote, “Tackling bullying requires sweating the small stuff and taking some small practical steps.”

It may sound simple, but it entails a lot of courage and conviction, especially for a bullying victim.  Still, the steps Cotton enumerated are things that can help to support the victim and help them regain a little bit of their humanity, while they contemplate the next big steps in dealing with work place bullies.

To learn about Elizabeth Cotton’s practical tips to deal with bullying, click here.

Crew Members of a Scotland Hit Drama Reported They Were Bullied and Treated Unfairly

More and more cases of bullying are cropping up all over the world.  One reported case came from Scotland, wherein crew members of a hit drama show, River City, said they were bullied and treated unfairly.

Bosses from BBC Scotland have launched an investigation on the reported workplace bullying, after one crew member was fired due to false accusations of swearing.  There were also reports of the new management deciding to remove traditional morning and afternoon tea breaks, and demanded additional filming to be done during the previous break times.  The BECTU union representing more than half of the River City crew are furious over the incidents and have even threatened to launch a strike action against the network’s unfair dismissal of the crew member and other unfair treatment claims.

The union even described the managing style of the new River City management as extremely aggressive.

To read more about the bullying case and responses from BBC Scotland on Daily Record, click here.


South Africa teachers experienced the most bullying among professional groups

A study conducted by North-West University academics indicated that South Africa teachers are one of the professional groups in the country that experienced the most bullying in the workplace. The research completed by the School of Education Studies titled “The Nature Of Workplace Bullying Experienced By Teachers and the Biopsychosocial Health Effects,” cited that the bullies that teachers encountered were mostly male school principals.

What’s alarming is that the research also indicated that principals looked for reasons to threaten or file grievances against bullied victims. One can only imagine how scary these teacher’s working environment can be.  It also suggests that organization’s culture is not a healthy and positive one, which would have given the victim’s the courage to speak up without fear of retaliation or further harassment.

The experience definitely has a negative effect on individuals who were bullied at work.  Not only does it affect a victim’s mental and emotional health, it also manifests into various physical sickness and conditions.  Bullying can also sometimes lead to depression and thoughts of suicide.

To learn more about the study and the devastating effect of bullying on teachers, click here.

Upcoming Human Resources Training Series to Tackle Bullying and Other Workplace Regulations

A human resources consulting firm based in Vancouver, Canada will be conducting a three day human resources training this October that will tackle various workplace issues including bullying and harassment.  The informative training series will also touch on the effect of social media in the work place, as well as provide sessions on leadership, effective communications and workplace culture change.

The first day session will also cover the human rights of employees in the workplace and will incorporate topics such as dealing with discrimination, harassment, workplace bullying, along with abusive and disrespectful behaviors.  The training series is a timely session given the rising instances of bullying in the workplace.  Learning about work place bullies and how employees and employers can deal with it is very important for any organization.

Typically these information sessions also provide updates about legislations and rulings that would govern workplace bullying or harassment.  It would help also if the three day training will provide benchmark data and best practices that will aid organizations and human resource professionals in promoting and keeping a positive work environment.

For this three day learning session, Cruise HR Solutions will provide the essential skills and information about workplace issues.  The human resources training series will run on October 6, 13 and 20.

Click here to learn more about the upcoming seminar.

A Case of Unfriending in Facebook Constituted to Workplace Bullying

Who would have thought that unfriending someone from Facebook is considered a form of workplace bullying?  This was a finding that the Australia Fair Work Commission discovered in a case filed by an employee.

Real estate agent Rachel Roberts has been working for VIEW Launceston, a Tasmania-based real estate agency, since November 2012.  However, Roberts went to the Fair Work Commission claiming that she experienced being bullied at work.  The alleged bully? Roberts claimed that it was the Sales Administrator and wife of the agency’s principal, Lisa Bird.

It all started when Roberts reportedly complained to the agency principal, James Bird, on how her property listings were not getting fair representation on the agency’s front window.  After she voiced out her concern, Lisa Bird accused her of being a “naughty little school girl running to the teacher” and later on deleted Roberts as a Facebook friend.  This was one of the incidents which Roberts used to add to her case.  The Fair Work Commission reportedly found Bird’s action as “indicative of unreasonable behavior” and that it “showed a lack of emotional maturity.”

Aside from the Facebook unfriending incident, Roberts also stated other instances when she was treated unfairly by Bird.  The complainant even told the tribunal that she lost a real estate deal because of the Sales Administrator’s unreasonable behavior.   Interestingly, the company’s argument that they have already released policies, along with a manual, that covers workplace bullying was rejected by the Commission.  Instead, the employer and Roberts will hold a meeting to discuss the anti-bullying order that should be made to address the issue.

Interested to learn more about the case?  Click here to read the full article at Australia’s Financial Review.

How to Stop Workplace Bullying: Some Tips for Employers

We’ve been hearing a lot of reports on how workplace bullying has become a common occurrence in organizations.  Several studies and research also showed that the number of cases or victims of work place bullies is rising.  According to Sandi Verrecchia, President and CEO of Satori Consulting, workplace bullying is happening more frequently than it should.  Now, this actually sounds scary.  Such scenarios suggest unhealthy working environments and negative organization cultures.

Unfortunately, one of the downsides in having bullies at the work place, is that these individuals can chase away the company’s good employees.  Data from a book, “The Bully At Work,” showed that 40 percent of victims of workplace bullying decided to leave their job in order to avoid the abuse and negative working environment.  Surprisingly, 24 percent of the victims were fired by the organization. On the other hand, only 24 percent of these work place bullies were punished.

So what should employers do in order to stop workplace bullying?  Satori Consulting’s Verrecchia shared a few tips on how to address the issue.  Note that these tips may sound simple, but it may pose a challenge for some organizations, since it’s not only about adopting zero tolerance policies and workplace bullying prevention programs.  One key factor is being transparent and implementing a culture change that needs to come from the top, and not a bottom-up approach.

To learn more about the ways on how to combat workplace bullies, click here.

Victims of Workplace Bullying More Likely to Contemplate Suicide

Suicide is such a strong and scary word.  Who would have thought that an unhealthy working environment would push an employee so much that he or she would contemplate doing this?  According a Norwegian study, victims of workplace bullying, or those exposed to such hostile working environments, have a higher risk of thinking suicidal thoughts.

Morten Birkeland Nielsen, professor at the National Institute of Occupational Health and the University of Bergen, as well as lead author of the research paper, said that the study was evidence that workplace environments has an impact on a person’s mental health.

The study, which ran from 2005 until 2010, followed a sample of 1,850 people all throughout the five year period.  One of the findings of the research indicated that less than 5 percent of the participants reported thoughts of suicide during the period, however, they were twice as likely to do so after becoming victims of work place bullies.

Another highlight of the research showed that the perception of being bullied at work is actually a precursor of suicidal thoughts and not a consequence, according to Professor Nielsen.

To other people, this situation may seem too extreme.  However, for a bullied employee to contemplate taking his or her own life means that the workplace abuse has been going on for some time.  Although, for some victims of workplace bullying, the period of abuse may not matter.  It is the gravity of the act, or that feeling of helplessness that they can’t stop the situation, that may push a victim to think about suicide as an alternative to end the bullying.

Experts are now calling on organizations and businesses to take a closer and harder look at the issue of workplace bullying.  Learning to spot it, implementing anti-bullying programs and cultivating a positive working environment will help to protect the employees, and ultimately create a more productive organization.

To learn more about the details of the study, click here.