Friday, July 13, 2012

Workplace Bullying

When people think of bullying it is mostly thought of as something that happens to our youth.  However, bullying at the work place is a very real thing and it happens every day in businesses around the world.  In fact, in a 2010 survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, they estimated that 35% of workers experience bullying first hand.  The similarities with the school yard are uncanny too. Workplace bullying does not discriminate when it comes to gender or race, and with the majority of the bullying being same gender harassment it's like high school all over again.  The main difference between the two, however, is that in the workplace it could be as subtle and as clandestine as sabotaging another person's work or as extreme as in your face violence.  It can also either take place between a boss and their subordinates or between co-workers.  

I dare you to pull my finger!        

Workplace bullying is the ultimate undermining to legitimate business practices.  It has the ability to damage the bottom line, which is the sole purpose of any business.  If a co-worker is harassing you and stopping you from doing your job properly wouldn’t it be in the best interest of your boss to stop such behavior? You bet it would be, especially if that person has their own boss to answer to.  Working in a professional environment is all about accountability.  Part of being a boss or manager is making sure productivity stays at a high and that all interpersonal issues get resolved.  However, many of the reasons why a person never comes forward when being bullied at the office is the same reason why a child will not tell their peers.  The fear of repercussions from the bully are a scary thought when you job and income are on the line.  There are very few of us out there that can jeopardize their employment by accusing another of harassment.

You have to remember though that bullying takes place for the same reasons at both the schoolyard and workplace.  Bullies are driven by deep-seated insecurities that can arise at opportune times.  Whether to make themselves feel better or to further drive their ambitions by targeting the best employees, bulling can take the form of many different types.  They can be really aggressive or extremely secretive of their behavior towards their targets.  Pushing you as you get in the elevator may get you heated and give you the ability to focus your annoyance on someone, but secretly eating your lunch will probably have a bigger effect on you on the whole.  It’s the bullies we don’t see in the workplace that sometimes have the longest lasting effects. A loss of money and lack of energy from malnutrition will definitely set you back farther in your career than a shove.

Larger corporate jobs will have human resource departments that specialize in deterring and stopping work place bullying, but they are not always aware that such behavior even exists.  If you do work for such a corporation it would be best to alert your human resources representative in a private manner to discuss your concerns.  They will most assuredly reprimand the bully if such behavior is occurring due to the corporate mentality of steering clear of law suits and protecting themselves. However, understand that there are no laws in this country that are in place to stop such behavior.  If nothing is done and you say attain a lawyer, there is no guarantee that it is something that can be proven in a court of law.  You will also run the risk of ostracizing yourself from your other co-workers if such claims are not witnessed by others. I don't know of many companies that like to hire employees with what they might see as frivolous lawsuits against past employers either.  Of course it is wrong, but that is why you have to be very very careful how you proceed in the world of adult workplace bullying.

The bottom line is that you will find bullying no matter where you go, and no matter how old you are.  It is up to us, the individual, to help put a stop to bullying when it rears its ugly head.  Ignoring it will not make it go away, and running from it will sometimes only make it worse by feeding the bully. 

See how The Prevention Team  helps to stop bullying in your neighborhood.

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1 comment:

  1. If we observe, bullying is present everywhere, only on different scales. And it does take place in the workplace. The bully might be your own boss or your co-worker. You are right though; it is just more subtle than when we are still in school. But the time you feel physically threatened, it would be best to report it to the proper authorities, whether that is your employer or the police.

    -- Alana Gorecki