If you’ve ever been bullied in the workplace, know that you're not alone. An estimated 53.5 million Americans report being bullied at work.
Workplace Bullying “occurs when an employee experiences a persistent pattern of mistreatment from others in the workplace that causes harm. Workplace bullying can include such tactics as verbal, nonverbal, psychological, physical abuse and humiliation. This type of aggression is particularly difficult because, unlike the typical forms of school bullying, workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of their organization and their society.”
“Bullying consists of the least competent, most aggressive employee projecting their incompetence onto the least aggressive, most competent employee and winning.” – Tim Field
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, the targets are more technically skilled than their bullies, are better liked, have more social skills and quite likely possess greater emotional intelligence. Targets are ethical, honest and have personalities founded on a pro-social orientation—a desire to help, heal, teach, develop and nurture others. Targets are morally superior and do not respond to aggression with aggression; however, this often allows the bully to act with impunity (as long as the employer also does nothing).
And why do so many employers do nothing? Co-workers and HR are usually unaware of the problems, and in the absence of anti-bullying laws, many organizations lack policies that discourage this behavior. Additionally, many workplace cultures tend to reward aggressiveness, and it’s the senior-level managers who are often the bullies.
Workplace bullying and its toxicity are extremely expensive for organizations in terms of lost productivity and the exodus of talent. It’s imperative that organizations find ways to eliminate it in order to ensure a healthy culture.
Please join @WeKnowNext at 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 19 for #Nextchat, with special guests Beth Zoller (@BethZoller1) and Marta Moakley (@Marta_m811), legal editors for XpertHR. We’ll discuss how employees should handle cases of workplace bullying and what organizations can do to prevent it.
Q1. What are the signs that an employee is being bullied at work, and who is most at risk of being a target?
Q2. Are workplace bullying and workplace harassment the same thing? Why or why not?
Q3. What’s the difference between a tough manager and a bully?
Q4. In what ways will the bully make the target look like the problem?
Q5. Why are most workplace bullies allowed to survive and thrive in organizations?
Q6. How can an employee prepare for and manage the inevitable retaliation after reporting a workplace bully?
Q7. Is the Miami Dolphins’ Richie Incognito a workplace bully? Why or why not?
Q8. What risks does an employer face when it comes to workplace bullying?
Q9. What recourse does a bullied individual have when there is no law explicitly preventing workplace bullying?