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Study Reveals Workplace Bullying Is Alive and Well

Submitted by  on July 30th, 2011

Man shouting at another man through megaphoneThe issue of workplace bullying is one that has been around for quite some time. However, the question that needs to be asked is whether it is an issue that has been adequately addressed by employers and HR departments from a management perspective. A recent study conducted by indicates that bullying within the workplace is all too prevalent and that there is a definite need for management teams to work to promote a culture of zero-tolerance of this practice within organizations.

The survey carried out by between February and March of 2011, which involved just over 5,600 employees in Chicago, showed that 27% of participants have experienced recent bullying in the workplace. The study also revealed that the main culprits of workplace bullying are bosses and immediate supervisors, with 14% of workers saying that they have been bullied by someone in a supervisory role. What is also alarming about this study is that out of the 28% of participants who said that they reported the bullying to their HR departments, 62% said that no action was taken to resolve the issue.

The negative effects of workplace bullying have been well founded and are not limited to just the individuals experiencing this type of harassment. Bullying can result in a decrease in staff morale, motivation, productivity and performance across the entire organization, as well as lead to an increase in absenteeism. These consequences, coupled with the high costs of potential lawsuits that companies may face if workplace bullying is not dealt with effectively at a management level, clearly show a need for organizations to work to prevent bullying, rather than simply deal with individual issues when, or if, they arise.

Given the fact that workplace bullying can be costly to organizations in many ways, it is obvious that establishing policies and standards that address this issue can have significant benefits to companies. By involving employees from all levels within an organization to develop policies that provide a clear definition of workplace bullying, and to outline specific guidelines on dealing with these incidences, HR can help increase awareness of appropriate behavior within the workplace. This strategy can also help to develop a supportive work environment where mutual respect between co-workers is nurtured.

While organizations may not be responsible for the actions of individual employees, they can play a major role in establishing standards of acceptable workplace behavior. Companies who take a hard line approach against bullying through explicit policy making and proactive professional development send a clear message that they are committed to the welfare of their workers, which will help to build a more collegial and productive team of employees.

Successful organizations are those that value their employees and foster positive working relationships across all levels of staffing. Promoting a zero-tolerance attitude to workplace bullying can not only have a positive impact within a company, it can also help build a strong reputation for an organization across an entire industry.


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Posted in Communication, Research | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Study Reveals Workplace Bullying Is Alive and Well”

  1. Rob Britt Says:

    There is a perception that bullying stops once you are out of high school, but that certainly isn’t always the case. The blue collar and the white collar worlds both have their share of bullies. Unfortunately it is seen as a sign of weakness (I think) to report such acts. Being the squeaky wheel may stop the bullying, but it can lead to be ostracized. Until an effective policy is in place (which includes supervision taking action when they see bullying of any sort) there is a catch-22.
    Thanks for this post. Good stuff to have percolating in the gray matter.

  2. Leslie Allan Says:

    Thanks Rob for your perceptive comments. Some people suffering bullies also don’t want to report it for fear of losing their job -especially in work places where bullying is a normal daily activity. A good place to start is to formulate a policy and educate managers.

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