Over the past couple of years, bullying in schools has received significant (and well deserved) attention; however, bullying is not limited solely to the schoolyard. Bullying in the workplace has increased steadily over the past decade, and researchers, legislatures and companies are taking note. So what is workplace bullying? According to Professor Loraleigh Keashly at Wayne State University, workplace bullying is “repeated actions and practices that are directed to one or more workers which are unwanted by the victim, which may be done deliberately or unconsciously, but clearly cause humiliation, offense, and distress and that may interfere with job performance and/or cause an unpleasant working environment.”
Recent U.S. studies showed that 13% of workers surveyed were bullied in the past 12 months, 24% reported being bullied at some point during their career, and 12% witnessed bullying in the workplace. Similar studies demonstrated that incidents of bullying are equally split between co-workers and supervisors and usually occur between members of the same sex.
Putting a halt to bullying in the workplace not only benefits the individuals who are victims of bullying, but also provides tangible benefits to the company. Decreasing incidents of bullying not only reduces potential litigation costs, workplace violence, and employee turnover, it also allows Human Resources and managers to focus on issues relating to corporate growth and progress. Furthermore, workforce productivity will rise when employees are not constantly anxious, unhappy and fearful.
So, what steps can employers take to reduce the number of bullying incidents? The employer’s response will be the next topic in this series, so stay tuned.