Workplace Bullying: Definitions, Demographics, and Destructiveness

Workplace bullying, as defined in the 2017 WBI Workplace Bullying Survey, includes the repeated mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees; abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating or intimidating, work sabotage, or verbal abuse. Recognizing and appropriately responding to it can be critical to reducing its impact in environments ranging from the courtroom to the c-suite. If not dealt with properly, workplace bullying hurts relationships, performance, and communications, directly impacting organizational and individual productivity, revenue, and outcomes.

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Editor’s Note: As an avid reader of organizational behavior and leadership studies, I am a great fan of writings on organizational effectiveness and semi-regularly write and highlight articles on areas around this topic. Today’s post shares extracts from five articles that define, describe some of the demographics, and highlight the personal and organizational destructiveness of workplace bullying. Workplace bullying challenges are often seen but not discussed. However, they are relevant to those in any work environment, including the eDiscovery ecosystem, as they can adversely impact the actions of people and the productivity of organizations.

2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey

Extract from a report by Gary Namie, PhD (Published by the Workplace Bullying Institute)

In our 2017 National Survey workplace bullying was defined as repeated mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees; abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, work sabotage, or verbal abuse.

Bullied individuals pay dearly with the loss of their economic livelihood to stop it. In the absence of legal prohibitions against it, employers are failing to take responsibility for its prevention and correction.

Selected Key Findings from the 2017 Report

  • 19% of Americans are bullied, another 19% witness it.
  • 61% of Americans are aware of abusive conduct in the workplace.
  • 60.4 million Americans are affected by it.
  • 61% of bullies are bosses, the majority (63%) operate alone.
  • 40% of bullied targets are believed to suffer adverse health effects.
  • 29% of targets remain silent about their experiences.
  • 71% of employer reactions are harmful to targets.
  • 60% of coworker reactions are harmful to targets.
  • To stop it, 65% of targets lose their original jobs.

Read the complete report 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey

Workplace Bullying: Causes, Effects, and Prevention

Extract from an article by Arash Emamzadeh (Published in Psychology Today)

Workplace bullying is characterized by the following three components:

  • A person becomes the focus of systematic unwelcome/adverse behavior.
  • This goes on for some time.
  • The victim cannot easily avoid the situation or the negative treatment.

Two common explanations for workplace bullying relate bullying to either the personality of the bullied individual or to the aspects of the work environment.

Regardless of the cause, the consequences of bullying can be severe, including physical and psychological symptoms and negative work-related outcomes (e.g., absenteeism). The anti-bullying interventions available do not seem to prevent bullying, though they do appear to have some positive effect, such as increasing awareness of the problem.

Read the complete article at Workplace Bullying: Causes, Effects, and Prevention

Bullying in Law Firms: A Problem We Need to Discuss

Extract from an article by Helen Hsu (Published by Above The Law)

What Law Firms Can Do to Prevent Bullying

  • Institute a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying. Mandate that employees, partners, and other law firm leaders treat each other with respect.
  • Once a zero-tolerance policy is adopted, the most important thing is to follow through. If there is an incident of bullying, appropriate action against the perpetrator should be taken. A policy means nothing without action and consequences, which may include probation, suspension, and even termination.
  • Conduct training on workplace bullying with a focus on what constitutes bullying, how to combat it, and the resolution process. Training may be as casual as a lunch and learn or as intensive as a series of seminars addressing workplace bullying.

While it is the nature of law firms and their employees to be riddled with high tension and stress, there is absolutely no excuse for anyone to verbally abuse another staff member. Everyone is entitled to feel safe and respected at their place of work. In turn, the happiness of a firm’s employees will positively impact the firm culture and, yes, even its bottom line.

Read the complete article at Bullying in Law Firms: A Problem We Need to Discuss

Five Ways to Shut Down Workplace Bullying

Extract from an article by Mark Murphy (Published by Forbes)

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and nothing shines brighter than the facts (those points that are objectively verifiable). Address bullying as it happens. Have details (the facts) ready to use and avoid the use of absolutes (e.g. words like “never” and “always”), which only give the bully opportunity to pivot the conversation to that one time they displayed model behavior.

If you don’t prepare in advance so you know what to say when confronting a bully, you risk being eaten alive. Don’t try and analyze these Talented Terrors. This is behavior management and not psychotherapy. You can’t make people change, you can only enforce consequences and offer choices. If a bully opts not to change, let them go.

I’ve developed the following four-step script to ease the intimidation a lot of managers feel when confronting a bully:

  • Step 1. Establish a candid context.
  • Step 2. Describe the timely, objective and specific issue.
  • Step 3. Candidly eliminate the status quo.
  • Step 4. Calmly offer a choice with a 24-hour option.

Here’s an example of the script in action:

“I’ve called you in because there’s a problem with your recent performance. Last week in Tuesday’s task force meeting you made three biting and sarcastic remarks during our brainstorming session. That is not acceptable behavior in that setting and it will not be allowed to continue. I can’t force you to change and I won’t try. But you do have a choice: you can change your behavior or keep it where it is. If you change, you will be much more effective, and I think you’ll see your teammates respond more positively. If you decide to change I can work with you to outline a very specific action plan with clear expectations. If you opt not to change, then we’ll begin an improvement plan which, without significant progress, could ultimately result in termination (insert your own HR policies here). I believe you can change this behavior. But only you can choose the path that’s right for you. Just be clear that there are only two options here and maintaining your present course is not an option. You can give me your decision right now or you can take 24 hours to make a decision.”

You may hear a variety of responses including denial (“I didn’t do anything wrong”), narcissism (“I’m the best person you’ve got”) and anger (“How dare you insult me like this”). In all cases, stick to the facts and don’t deviate from your script, even if it means repeating yourself numerous times.

Read the complete Five Ways to Shut Down Workplace Bullying

How to Bounce Back After Leaving a Toxic Work Environment

Extract from an article by Ellen Hendricksen (Published by LinkedIn Pulse)

“What’s the best way to move on from a job where you were treated badly and had to leave because of the toxic environment?”

According to a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 62% of employers simply ignore toxic employees in their ranks. It can be tempting to stick it out due to a sense of fairness or pride, but at some point, the healthiest thing to do is walk away. 

A common response to bullying is to self-destruct through substance abuse or withdrawing from life. Resist this temptation. Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Do activities that recharge your batteries. Think of it as balancing out the scales; you deserve it.

Read the complete article at How to Bounce Back After Leaving a Toxic Work Environment

Additional Reading

Source: ComplexDiscovery

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