Survey: Bullies Are Overtaking The Workplace

work bullyBy Debra Auerbach


Most workers, even those who love their jobs, would probably say their job has caused them stress at some point. Throw in job insecurity, an increased workload and intensified pressure to perform, and stress levels can hit the roof. While some workers release stress in positive, healthy ways, others may take their frustrations out on their teammates, to the point where it becomes bullying.

While workplace bullying isn't a new phenomenon, it is becoming more prevalent. According to a new CareerBuilder study, 35 percent of workers said that they have felt bullied at work, up from 27 percent last year. Bullying can cause more harm than hurt feelings or bruised egos; 17 percent of the workers who said they've felt bullied also reported that they quit their jobs to escape the situation. Sixteen percent said they suffered health-related problems as a result.



Profile Of A Bully

The study, which included more than 3,800 workers nationwide, revealed that bullies can be found at all levels within a company. Of workers who felt bullied, most pointed to incidents with their bosses (48 percent) or co-workers (45 percent). Thirty-one percent have been picked on by customers and 26 percent by someone higher up in the company other than their boss. Fifty-four percent of those bullied said that they were tormented by someone older, while 29 percent said the bully was younger.


Words Used As Weapons

While bullying can sometimes be physical, words can also wound. Workers reported being bullied in the following ways:
  • Falsely accused of mistakes -- 42 percent.
  • Ignored -- 39 percent.
  • Used different standards or policies toward me than other workers -- 36 percent.
  • Constantly criticized -- 33 percent.
  • Someone didn't perform certain duties, which negatively impacted my work -- 31 percent.
  • Yelled at by boss in front of co-workers -- 28 percent.
  • Belittling comments were made about my work during meetings -- 24 percent.
  • Gossiped about -- 26 percent.
  • Someone stole credit for my work -- 19 percent.
  • Purposely excluded from projects or meetings -- 18 percent.
  • Picked on for personal attributes -- 15 percent.

Speaking Up

It takes courage to confront a bully or report the aggressor to human resources, but speaking up is often the only way to stop it.

Bullied workers have handled the situation in different ways:
  • 49 percent of victims reported confronting the bully themselves.
  • 50 percent of those who confronted the bully said the bullying stopped; 11 percent said it got worse; 38 percent said the bullying didn't change.
  • 27 percent reported it to their HR department.
  • 43 percent of those who reported it to HR said action was taken; 57 percent said nothing was done.

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, says that while the definition of bullying can vary considerably, it is often tied to patterns of unfair treatment.

"Bullying can have a significant impact on both individual and company performance. It's important to cite specific incidents when addressing the situation with the bully or a company authority and keep focused on finding a resolution."


Three Tips For Taking Action

Here are three ways to handle a workplace bully situation:
  1. Keep a record. Write down all bullying incidents, documenting places, times, what happened and who was present.
  2. Try talking it out. Consider talking to the bully, providing examples of how you felt treated unfairly. Chances are the bully may not be aware that he is making you feel this way.
  3. Focus on resolution. When sharing examples with the bully or a company authority, center the discussions around how to make the working situation better or how things could be handled differently.


Para Mullan on Bullying in the Workplace




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15 Comments

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Peter G'

I have witnessed bullying at the senior level and this causes concern because who do you go to now to report bullying when the entire senior staff are bullies and believe in the old strong armed 80's style management where pushing people around and sexually harassing females is excepted? I'm still amazed that even now in 2012 there are some people who just can't see how poorly they treat their subordinates and get away with it... I will be writing about it in my seminars and books... Thank You for reading my post...

August 31 2012 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
braunsys

The workplace is full of bullies and backstabbers, and if you happen to be the unfortunate target, then you understand completely the insidiousness and the devastation bullying causes.

If one has not experienced being bullied, then one cannot fully understand or appreciate the trauma and destruction caused from being bullied.

August 31 2012 at 10:14 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Greg Brooks ME

I have had many jobs and bosses in my life, but this one was the worst. I was working at a manufacturer and someone who was apparently my enemy, posted on a wall all bunch of serioulsly negitive comments. Can you imagine this, a posting that distracts from everything the work place should be about directed at someone for all to see, how tacky does it get. I thought about just tearing it down, after all someone put it up, so all you have to do is take it down, no I left it up. Some other person pushed books over top of it to cover it up, again , how tacky. At this stage in my life I really don't care, if making it big in a company takes these tactics they go for it.

August 30 2012 at 8:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Greg Brooks ME

Are you kidding, sticks and stones can break bones, but words can kill.

August 30 2012 at 8:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wdcarterjr

I knew a fellow who had some one constantly taking credit for his work.

He decided to do two sets of the work, one correct and the other completely wrong.

He let the culprit take the wrong set of numbers and made a fool out of him.

August 30 2012 at 8:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pharos24

A lot of times standing up to people like these is the WORST thing you can do. Suppose they fire you, and you find you can't get another job because they won't give you a job recommendation? Things aren't the way they used to be when if you were dissatisfied, you could just quit. At a time when you're lucky to have ANY job, people are forced to take this. Workplace bullying is a major problem, and they're trying right now to pass legislation to deal with it, and to give victims a right to sue. Hopefully they will

August 30 2012 at 6:53 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pharos24's comment
CJ Bellamy

The witch who did this to me hassled me until I finally turned and said, "Look Carolyn, kindly stop ordering me what to do. You have no authority, you are not a supervisor, you are not a manager, so stop now." We are nurses, and she got up without giving me her end of shift report. I was subsequently accused of "being confrontational". After another such incident took place, the consequences for me where more severe. The so-called "boss", also a bitch from HELL, was a bully too. She insulted me, falsely accused me, yelled at me, and virtually told me that I was a liar. She hollered in a hallway (breach of confidentiality) that she had others who'd come forward to say that I took some papers home from the workplace which I should not have done. First of all, that never happened. Secondly, either she or the others are lying because it isn't even possible for them to have seen me do such a thing. Saying such a thing out loud in a public hallway about an employee where others could clearly hear it is a breach of confidentiality and I will be making an official report about her actions. Some day I am going to write a book about working life for a middle-class woman, and it's going to include everything from the butt-grabbing I experienced when I was young and sexy, to the racism I experienced and witnessed from a Barbadian black woman, to lies and harassment, to false accusations, taking credit for my work, and the list goes on. But what is the worst thing is when I have witnessed the abuse of another person, reported it, and got into trouble even for doing that. The workplace is full of psychos, perverts, racists, bullies, sociopaths and villains. I am on my way to retirement, but it's still a little ways off. I look forward to the day when I don't have to face the SICKNESS of work any more, and I can live my life as I truly intend to--free.

September 27 2012 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Francis Xavier Stegm

THERE WAS A TIME THAT I DID CONSULTING AT A PRISON AND I HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN A GREAT DEAL ABOUT HUMAN BEHAVIOR..THE STRONG WILL ABUSE THE WEAK..IT IS THE RULE OF THE JUNGLE..IT IS A MATTER OF FIGHT OR FLIGHT..AND I PREFER TO FIGHT.. INMATES THAT CAME INTO THE PRISON SYSTEM AND THAT DID NOT DEFEND THEMSELVES WERE ABUSED, RAPED, AND THEIR FOOD WAS OFTEN TAKEN FROM THEM.
IN ORDER TO SURVIVE IN THE WORK PLACE YOU MUST ESTABLISH A REPUTATION OF ALWAYS STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS AND NEVER BACK DOWN..IF SOME ONE YELLS AT YOU..THEN YELL BACK AT THEM,,IF SOME ONE PUSHES YOU PUSH BACK.. IF ANY ONE KNOW THAT YOU WON;T PUT UP WITH ANY THING THAN THEY WILL NOT BOTHER YOU..YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PUT UP WITH ANY ONE INCLUDING YOUR BOSS OR FELLOW WORKERS..
I AM HISPANIC AND THERE ARE MANY TIME THAT I WILL DO CONSULTING WITH SOME CORP. AND SOME ONE WILL START CRACKING JOKES ABOUT HISPANICS..AND I PUT A STOP TO IT RIGHT AWAY.
PEOPLE HAVE LEARNED THAT I AM THE NICEST PERSON IN THE WORLD BUT I DON;T TAKE ANY CRAP FOR ANY ONE,,IT WORKS FOR ME AND I HOPE IT WORKS FOR YOU.

August 30 2012 at 6:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Francis Xavier Stegm

THERE WAS A TIME THAT I HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO CONSULTING AT A PRISON AND I LEARNED A GREAT DEAL..I YOU LET PEOPLE PUSH YOU AROUND THEY WILL DO IT..IS YOU LET SOME ONE GET AWAY WITH DOING SOME THING TO YOU THAN THEY WILL DO IT AGAIN...
IN PRISON I LEARNED THAT THE STRONG WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WEAK..IT IS THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE..THE STRONG WILL EAT THE WEEK ..AND THE SAME APPLIES TO LIFE..
I HAVE A SIMPLE RULE,,I DON;T [IT WITH ANY CRAP..AND PEOPLE KNOW IT.
IT IS BETTER TO FIGHT WITH SOME ONE THAN PUT UP WITH ANY ABUSE.. THEY MIGHT BEAT THE HECK OUT OF YOU BUT THEY WILL KNOW BETTER THAN TO ABUSE OR INSULT YOU AGAIN.
THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES THAT I HAVE DONE CONSULTING AND I FIND SOME ONE THAT WILL TRY TO OBJECT TO EVERY THING THAT I SAY..I AM HISPANIC AND OFTEN TIMES SOME ONE WILL CRACK SOME INSULTING REMARK.. AND I WILL NOT PUT UP WITH IT..
THE SIMPLE RULE IS ,,,DON,T TAKE ANY CRAP FROM ANY ONE THAT INCLUDES YOUR BOSS OR OTHER WORKERS..ONCE YOU ESTABLISH A REPUTATION OF TAKING CARE OF YOUR SELF, PEOPLE WILL LEAVE YOU ALONE...I AM VERY NICE BUT DON.T MESS WITH ME,,STEGMAN

August 30 2012 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
disenchatdangel

This happened to me a few years ago at a job I loved.The hours were perfect and it was something I loved to do.But because of a few people I quit.I just couldn't take it any more.I worked hard,didn't sneak off every few minutes for a smoke break,was polite and respectful to everyone.I had complements from the higher up so I knew I was doing my job well. But those same people who saw my working skills did nothing to stop the bullies.Not only does the bullying have to stop in schools but also in the work place.We try to work to support a family, suppliment another income or just want to get out and do something for ourselves.We don't go into a job to have to deal with rude people.I miss that job and will every day from now until eternity but I'm glad I'm out of there.

August 30 2012 at 6:14 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Mark Hijar

Bullying ... I mean ... come on. First, you have to care to be bullied. Second, and I agree with the last commenter, are you being bullied or are you being correctly criticized for poor performance? I had dinner with a client just this week where she (and, mind you, she's 4'9" and 63 years old - not to say she isn't tough as all hell) was accused of bullying because she called out mistakes made by one of her employees IN A MEETING WHERE RESULTS OF AN INTERNAL AUDIT WERE BEING REVIEWED. That "bullying event" was reported to HR. I'm sorry, but if you can't stand being "called out" during a recap of internal audit results, get out of the industry.

When I was Director of Compliance and Corporate Counsel for a $900M a year government contractor I used to get yelled and all the time. Unfortunately for them I don't take kindly to yelling and would either belittle them with kindness or yell right back. And being that my father was a Marine Corps drill instructor I have quite the lung capacity (I mean, have you ever tried talking over a DI? Hint - use your diaphragm). One time the Director of BD decided he was going to "rough me up" by storming into my office red faced and yelling. I asked him to quiet down once, which stoked his fires. So I decided to give him a little taste of yelling. The entire hallway went to a hush as he nervously closed the door of my office behind him and said "Gosh, you don't have to scream at me!"

I thought that was priceless. And adorable.

Anyway - there are some times when a boss can be abusive. But the damage done is often self-regulated. And ask yourself - if I have no options for another job, should I really be complaining about this one?

August 30 2012 at 6:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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