Workplace bullies cost businesses more than you might think, jeopardizing workplace safety and morale. That’s why it’s important for businesses to have organizational-wide systems in place to educate employees and management about how to spot and eliminate workplace bullying. Businesses need to create an environment where employees are encouraged to document incidents, feel safe in reporting abuses and can expect a quick and positive resolution. Why is dealing with the workplace bully such as big issue?
- They’re everywhere. According to a 2010 study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35 percent of workers reported that they had been bullied by a co-worker or boss. And workplace bullying is an equal opportunity occurrence, with men and women being both the harassers and the victims. While 68 percent of bullying is same-gender harassment, when women are bullies, their victims are other women 80 percent of the time.
- They’re skilled. Adult bullies have had decades to develop their patterns of behavior.
- They’re bad for morale. A bully’s aim is to gain power or elevate their status by belittling or putting down others. Their tactics may range from humiliating targets, gossiping, spreading rumors, attempting to steal or damage property or even stalking their victims.
- They’re costly. Have a bully in your office? They’re probably costing you big bucks—even if the victims never hit you with a lawsuit. Employees targeted by bullies may experience health problems such as headaches, difficulty concentrating, depression and sleep and anxiety issues. These symptoms can result in absenteeism, reduced productivity and increased turnover.
- They’re pros at isolating their victims. Forget about just bullying victims when no one else is looking. Bullies can make others complicit in their behavior. Just like on the playground, in the workplace, bullies often recruit “secondary” adults who don’t want to be on the bully’s “bad side.” These adults go along with the bully’s behavior, making the bully’s victims feel even more isolated.
- Their effects are long-lasting. Even after the bullying stops or the bully leaves the workplace, the pain they inflicted can linger. Former targets may remain fearful, have difficulty forming trusting relationships and lack confidence