Bullies Poison the Workplace
For those who thought they left bullies behind on the playgrounds of their youth, think again. According to studies, bullying is fairly common and, in fact, is so much a part of the American workplace culture that nine percent do not even identify the behavior for what it is.
“Workers suffering on the job and thinking they’re ‘going crazy’ learn that the phenomenon has a name, what it looks like, that it happens to many workers, and potentially, what they might do about it,” said Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico and one of the authors of Burned by Bullying in the American Workplace: Prevalence, Perception, Degree and Impact. The study will be published in the September issue of the Journal of Management Studies.
Other workplace studies have come to similar conclusions. A survey of 100 human resource professionals by Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that a third said they had either experienced or witnessed bullying.
“Statistically, bullying is far more prevalent than sexual harassment, workplace violence or racial discrimination and the long-term costs to the organization are significant, yet bullying remains one of the most overlooked problems by management and the courts,” John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told the Management-Issues website.
The costs, according to Mr. Challenger, are steep. “Each company that loses an employee due to a workplace bully has to replace that person. The cost of replacement can be as high as 150 per cent of the former worker’s salary, when recruiting, training, and lost productivity costs are a taken into account,” he said.
Bullying, as defined by the Workplace Bullying Institute, usually presents itself in three ways, including “verbal abuse, threatening, humiliating or offensive behavior/actions, and work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done.”
Ultimately, Gary Kaplan, president of Gary Kaplan & Associates, told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, the cure for bullying is straightforward.
“If management takes a hard stand that they will not tolerate that form of behavior, ultimately that behavior will not happen in that environment,” he said. “It all leads to one place, that’s with the CEO of the organization, the stand they take on social and moral issues.”
Discussion Questions: Have you ever witnessed workplace bullying? How common is bullying in retail workplace environments? What should be done to address the issue?
- Bullying too common in U.S. workplace – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
- Bullies blight U.S. workplaces – Management-Issues
- The Workplace Bullying Institute’s Definition of the Phenomenon – The Workplace Bullying Institute