If you’ve ever seen A Christmas Story, then you’ve seen the classic interpretation of a bully. An older kid plots down the path that younger, smaller kids take to get home from school and then picks on them. The bully might steal their lunch money or physically assault them. What we don’t often consider, however, is that bullying happens in the workplace as well.
To date, no U.S. state has passed an anti-bullying law for the workplace.
Bullying in the Workplace
Workplace bullying really is the destruction of a person in every sense. Not only does it put a target’s career in jeopardy, but it also puts their health at risk. 37% of the people who are targeted by bullies are considered to be “compassionate and kind” co-workers. Only 6% of the targets of workplace bullying are aggressive. That’s why this is an issue that needs to be addressed today.
- 96% of American employees experience bullying in the workplace.
- The percentage of bullies who have been after a specific target for a minimum of 1 year: 89%.
- 54% of bullies have been bullying for more than 5 years.
- 80%. That’s the percentage of bullies who are able to have a negative effect on 5 or more co-workers.
- 62% saw sabotaging of others’ work or reputations as the primary form of bullying in the workplace.
- Only 4% of co-workers saw assault or physical intimidation as the primary form of bullying, but psychological intimidation was noted 52% of the time.
- 51% of employees say their company has a policy for dealing with bullies, but only 7% who are aware of a policy against bullying know of anyone who has ever used it.
- Women [53%] are more likely to be bullies in the workplace than men [47%].
- Bosses make up the majority of bullies.
One of the issues of workplace bullying is that the bully doesn’t actually know how they are being perceived. In Forbes, there is an account of a manager who described himself as a good division manager 98% of the time, but there would be a 2% chance that he’d lose his temper during the day. From the employee perspective, however, things were very different. They felt like they had to walk on egg shells 98% of the time and they’d get to see this division manager’s true persona 2% of the time. When this was realized, the manager actively worked to change his behavior. It’s really important for co-workers to share information with each other. Silence is what makes the bullying behavior become validated.
Workplace Bullying Also Affects Productivity
- 20% of recent survey responders reported that workplace bullying cost them upwards of seven hours a week.
- $8,800. This is the amount of annual lost wages that workplace bullying costs a target on average.
- Every target of a bully may lose up to 200 hours of productivity annually. If that targeted employee takes sick or vacation time, it may be a total of 400 hours of lost production to the employer.
- In 2011, half of employees in a workplace survey said they were treated rudely at least once a week at their job. This was an increase of 25% from a similar survey in 1998.
- Many workplace bullies also score high on tests of narcissism and self-orientation.
- Less than a third of American employees say they’re engaged at work.
- A survey conducted by Neuro Drinks found that only 9% of people say they’re happy at the office.
- In Australia, the financial cost of workplace bullying is estimated to be as high as $13 billion per year.
It really might sound like an answer that is too simple, but the easiest way to increase the job performance of a team is to eliminate the bullying that is allowed. When everyone gets along, production rates are higher. If someone has a best friend at work, then production levels rise even more. This isn’t a schoolyard problem any more. Bullies who don’t grow up and change their ways will become bullies in the workplace. They will create chaos, discord, and reduce production. It isn’t an employee problem. It is an employer problem.
What Do We Need yo Change to Prevent Bullying?
- There is an active bully in two-thirds of all workplaces. They are also more likely to be in some sort of authoritative position.
- 100% of workers who indicated there was an active bully in their workplace also stated the actions of this person/persons was having a negative effect on staff morale.
- Only 50% of people who see workplace bullying will report it, but 90% of people say that workplace bullying has a negative effect on the entire company culture.
- 23.5% of those who indicated they had been bullied stated that the bully did not act alone and that there were others involved.
- 72%. That’s the percentage of people who will leave a job because they’ve been bullied or witnessed bullying in the workplace.
- Workplace bullying results in higher stress levels for 9 out of every 10 employees.
- 16.6% of respondents to an Australian survey said that they had known of, or worked with a staff member who, after being targeted by a workplace bully, later committed suicide.
Almost everyone believes that executive leaders in an organization should be prosecuted if they allow bullying in the workplace. Yet despite this perspective, only half of those folks will actually report bullying when it occurs. This is because there is a tangible fear in the modern workplace that a bully will shift their target to the reporting individual. We need to stop bullying because the primary targets are the employees who are typically the most loyal and hardest working. We’re losing three-quarters of our best staff when we allow bullying to occur. Maybe the old saying that businesses should hire slowly, but fire quickly, needs to apply when it comes to bullying in the workplace so workplace morale and productivity can be protected.