It’s Time to Stop Workplace Bullying


BullyingI read quite a few blogs on management and hiring practices (kudos to my favorite, Ask A Manager), and recently I fell down the rabbit hole of clicking links to related articles at the bottom of a post. That’s how I came to learn about the Workplace Bullying Institute (or WBI), “the first and only U.S. organization dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying.” The site is filled with fascinating research, tips for targets of bullying, and training materials for managers. The resources WBI provides are very useful, yet they make me incredibly sad.

Why? Because an organization like this is needed in the first place.

According to a 2010 WBI survey, 35% of workers in the U.S. reported being bullied at work. An additional 15% of workers witnessed the bullying of others. That means half of workers in America are affected by bullying. Meanwhile, a National Center for Education Statistics study (PDF) that came out in 2009 showed that bullying affected 28% of students ages 12 through 18 (this doesn’t include cyber bullying, but rather in-school bullying like being called names, being made the subject of rumors, or being physically harmed).

So 28% of pre-teens and teens are the victims of bullying, while 35% of workers are. Who are the adults here?

If you’re not compelled to do something about this in your own office, think of it this way. Your company is creating a culture of incivility and fear. How much is this costing you? Employees calling in sick more frequently, increased turnover (hiring a new employee equals one and a half times the salary of keeping an existing one), lower productivity because teams don’t function well, and HR spending time counseling victims of bullying and investigating their claims. Imagine how much better our workplaces would be if bullying was not tolerated? If bullies were given specific and stern feedback about their behavior one time and then fired if they didn’t improve? If employees knew they could report bullying without consequences or retaliation, and that once they did, a thorough investigation would take place? According to WBI research, bullying is four times more prevalent than illegal harassment, yet it’s a silent epidemic in corporate America.

If you’d like to learn more about the financial and emotional effects of workplace bullying, and ways you can help bring about change, I highly recommend Robert Sutton’s intriguingly-named book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. After you read it, anonymously leave it on the desk of your office bully!

Let’s bring kindness back into the workplace. It’s good for your business, and even better for your employees.

5 Responses to “It’s Time to Stop Workplace Bullying”

  1. ditto the author’s feeling sad re the need for an institution battling bullying in the workplace; and perhaps doubly so because as a teacher I realize that our children behave the way they do because they see our behavior as adults and model the same behavior in school. If it costs one and a half times the amount of money to replace a worker who leaves a job because of bullying, imagine how much our children are losing out in their education because of the bulling that takes place in schools as a result of the bullying behavior that children display becasue of the bullying behavior the see happening to or from their parents in the workplace. Time for everyone to realize exactly how much we influence our children and environment by the actions we display – either bullying or the lack of committment to fight against it.

  2. great post ! I fear bullying in the workplace is more common than we know. It’s strange as adults we don’t see the practise as ‘bullying’ just ‘bizarre workplace dynamics or having to work with an arse syndrome’. I think if more people recognised behaviour as bullying, effective measures would be taken more quickly :)

  3. Your means of describing the whole thing in this piecee of writing
    is really good, all caan effortlessly bbe aware of it, Thanks a lot.

  4. Great blog you have got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays.

    I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Workplace Bullying: Costly Behaviors, Difficult Choices - April 16, 2013

    [...] I just love it when workplace bullying issues are discussed from the POV of the bottom line. It’s so logical and linear. Here is a statement from a recent article on the Motley Fool website.  [...]

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