BY MYESHI BRILEY
Adult Bullying in the work place is a persistent emotional assault that endangers people’s health and careers. It’s relentless hounding and sabotage by bosses and co-workers. If you’ve ever worked with grown-up bullies, you know they’ll turn a dream job into a nightmare. It can include spreading lies, verbal abuse, browbeating, threats, intimidation, humiliation and more. Though adult bullying is mostly non-physical it is still violence. I want it understood that Adult Bullying is not healthy in any work place. It’s a toxic seed, a nasty germ and it will kill good employees.
You might not know how common bullying is, ninety-six percent of American employees have encountered abuse at work. Adult bullying in the workplace happens four times more often than sexual harassment and racial discrimination. However, in a fourth of the bullying cases, discrimination plays a part. Sixty-two percent of bullies are male and fifty-eight percent of the victims are female. Women bullies victimize other women eighty percent of the time. Work place bullies target those who are more technically skilled, kinder and more productive than they are. It’s important victimized employees know they are not alone and the bullying is not their fault.
Perpetrators get by with bullying because it’s not illegal. The bully and others in the company may try to tell the targeted employee that since it’s not against the law, it’s not a serious problem. They play the stick and stones can’t hurt you card…the children’s nursery rhyme…like children. This is bunk. The bullied employee didn’t encourage or ask for systematic emotional abuse and interference with their work. No one wants to be or deserves to be humiliated or berated in the workplace.
The targeted employee often has to take sick leave or short-term disability under a physician or mental health professional’s care to recover enough to make a clear decision to stay and fight or to leave for their health. This type of work trauma can cause panic attacks, dangerous rises in blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, neurotransmitter disruption, hippocampus and amygdala atrophy, colitis, auto-immune disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, and even skin disorders. In fact, there is a strong correlation between work stress and heart disease.
Seventy-seven percent of the time the victimized employee loses their job either involuntarily or for health reasons. It is advantageous for companies to put an end to adult bullying in the work place. Healthy CEO’s that run real companies don’t allow this behavior. Worthy companies purge bullies but there’re many that actually promote them. If you are bullied go to the highest officer in the company that you can talk to. But if you’re employed at a family-owned or small business, you’ll have to quit your job if you’re bullied. Make your case that bullying is too expensive to ignore. Bullies cost companies a lot of money. Stick to the bottom line, the bully’s impact on the organization. Don’t discuss the emotional harm you suffered from the bully, you’ll just be discounted and discredited…because of that old children’s nursery rhyme. Some people never grow up.
Seriously, companies have an obligation to try to keep the workplace safe. The legal term for an organization’s action of retaining an employee they know has bullied before is negligent retention. Employers regulate the work environment, consequently, it’s their job to stop a bullying problem. If you’re bullied at work, give your company one chance. If they stand by the adult bully, quit your job. Some companies fire employees who come forward and speak out when they are bullied. if your company does that it’s not your fault. Hold your head high and leave as you point out how wrong that is. Bullied workers have nothing to be ashamed about. They did nothing wrong. They didn’t cause the bullying. Sadly, and ironically, the person that usually keeps their job in cases of bullying is the bully. If a company doesn’t care if a bully never stops, it’s good the abused employee no longer has to work there, not only for health reasons, but also because no one should have to work for a company like that.
Work force output is reduced by about forty percent at companies infected by bullying. Abused employees become unmotivated and don’t put in extra effort or work long hours. Absenteeism due to bullying causes a huge loss in work hours for companies. These adult bullies trigger huge turnover rates for companies not only due to victims quitting their jobs but also from employees who witnessed the bullying. People prefer to work in positive environments. This high turnover financially impacts companies as every time an employee leaves there are replacement costs for recruiting, hiring and training new staff.
Another shortfall caused by bullying is loss of sales due to bullied employees telling their friends and families, who spread the word. Now days people blog and post experiences on social media so one person can tell thousands. When customers find out a company has a reputation of bullying their employees, it often causes a decrease in sales.
Bullying also causes an economic impact on a company due to added sick leave, health insurance costs and worker’s compensation claims from the medical issues associated with it. Sometimes companies face legal costs, organizations have been found liable for bullying. Companies have had to pay damages to an employee for health issues, and lost wages caused by workplace bullying. Several extreme cases of bullying have forced employers to pay millions of dollars in settlements. Companies must also deal with wrongful dismissal claims when an employee was wrongfully terminated by a bully supervisor. Additionally, it costs companies money to provide a bully employee with anger-management, leadership training, team-building activities, sensitivity training and counseling to rehabilitate them so they can function appropriately in the workplace. However, many bullies never change.
Companies need to have a policy in place that defines workplace bullying with guidelines, practices, and protocols to follow. The policy should be enforced. The company should require cases of bullying to be reported and investigated. Smart employers do what they can to increase productivity, employee retention and morale by taking a hard stance against bullying.
As a President/CEO of a Chamber of Commerce now, I have worked for many people, adult bullies, who should have never had a manager role. It’ s very important that managers understand they are the leaders in their company and they should never put their thumb on employees. The number one key if you are bullied is to leave the employer and write a blog for others about the company. Companies should never allow bullying bosses or co-workers to drive good employees out of their organizations. Instead, businesses need to drive out abusive conduct, banish the bullies and in turn they will gain happy, healthy, loyal employees.