A History of Bullying in My Workplace

Matt went to work on a Monday morning thinking that it was going to be a day like any other day. Unfortunately, Matt came in contact with a girl named Trisha who for whatever reason decided to harass or bully him while at work. Aggressive behavior can come in many forms. One of those forms is bullying and in the scenario discussed above is a form called workplace bullying. Bullying is different from aggression. Whereas aggression may involve a single act, bullying involves repeated attacks against the target, creating an ongoing pattern of behavior.

(Dickson, 2005) Workplace bullying is a growing concern for companies and the people who work in these companies.

There are five basic questions that need to be asked and answered when discussing workplace bullying. These questions are: What does workplace bullying look like, and how does it manifest in organizations? How do employees and organizations make sense of and respond to workplace bullying? Why is adult bullying at work so harmful? Why is workplace abuse so difficult to address and stop? How can workplace bullying be addressed or ameliorated? (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2012)

All of these questions will be addressed in this paper.

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Within this paper, topics like the definition of bullying will be defined. This paper will review some of the things that employers can do or use to help identify and address bullying in the workplace. It will also discuss what companies can do to prevent bullying in the workplace going forward. And finally, this paper shall explain why bullying is bad not only for the workplace but for the people involved.

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Within this paper, specified details and examples will be provided supporting the belief that bullying is bad for companies, and the employees who work for these companies.

Sometimes it’s hard to understand or know when someone is being bullied at work? Sometimes it’s hard to know or understand if a particular person in a group that is the one doing the bullying or if it is the whole group conducting the bullying. People may look at these questions and ask themselves how or if they would even know. But for some people, they cannot make the distinction of when they are being bullied or if they are the ones doing the bullying.

Workplace bullying is definitely real and it is detrimental to the bullied employee(s), their co-workers who witness the bullying, and the organizations in which it occurs. Some of the potential consequences include direct costs of litigation, medical claims, the decline in employee morale and employee engagement, fear, anxiety, absenteeism, and more. The bottom line is that bullying is an unacceptable behavior in any form.

To understand workplace bullying one needs to define the definition of workplace bullying. Bullying occurs when someone at work is systematically subjected to aggressive behavior from one or more colleagues or superiors over a long period of time, in a situation where the target finds it difficult to defend him or herself or to escape the situation. Such treatment tends to stigmatize the target and may even cause severe psychological trauma. Empirical studies on the causes of bullying have concentrated on the personality of the victim and psychosocial factors at work. Most studies treat bullying as a unified phenomenon, in spite of the fact that different kinds of behaviors are involved.

The story of Matt and Tricia is, unfortunately, a true story and Matt being the victim of Tricia’s constant harassment and bullying made him feel like he was not doing a good job at work or in life for that matter. Tricia would single out Matt’s mistakes at every chance she could. Tricia would tell other co-workers that Matt was not capable of doing a good job and that he shouldn’t even be working for the company. Tricia would call Matt names to his face and to his co-workers. In this case, Matt had finally taken enough abuse and went to the Human Resource department to explain what had been going on. Our Human Resource department talked to each of them and decided to move Tricia to a new area. As it was stated earlier bullying is hard to determine and in this case the Human Resource department felt like it was just a conflict of personalities where the two just could not get along well enough.

Tricia went to her new area within the company and was good for the first few months but then Tricia found a new victim named Linda to bully and harass and started the cycle all over again with this other employee. The pattern was the same, she began demoralizing Linda by pointing out Linda’s faults and then began calling her names. Tricia began to talk bad about Linda to Linda’s face and her coworkers. Tricia’s attacks began to increase and get more severe almost every week that past. Like Matt, Linda had finally taken enough of the harassment and bullying from Tricia and went to the Human Resource department.

The Human Resource department once again had talked to both but now they began to see the pattern of bullying from Tricia and had to decide to they move Tricia again and give her one last chance or do they terminate her for not only to better the morale of the employees in the company but for the protection of the other employees within the company. In this case, they decided to terminate Tricia to improve morale and to protect their employees.

Now, there were signs that showed Tricia’s behavior leading up to the events that took place between Matt and Linda. It’s these signs that everyone needs to be aware of and to look for. Scholars have argued that in order for bullying to take place, the context must allow the behavior to occur. According to the work environmental hypothesis, several studies have pointed out how factors beyond individual characteristics are the main causes of bullying. Among the different antecedents, the climate has been one of the most prominently identified to explain workplace behavior. The surroundings in which people work has a lot to do with how workplace bullying is allowed to happen. Recent multilevel studies have found that collective perceptions of fairness and psychosocial safety buffer enable bullying behaviors in work units. Similarly, non-supportive leadership practices have been related to bullying within work units. For instance when a supervisor is told by one employee that another employee is harassing them or bullying them and that supervisor does not act on that information that person that is instigating or initiating the bullying behavior is allowed to continue or to increase this behavior not only to the person initially being harassed or bullied but it could move onto other employees as well. (Escartín, 2016,)

Some other signs that were there with Tricia that were not identified by the Human Resource department included Deceit, In this case, repeated lying, not telling the truth and deceiving others employees to get her way. Another sign that Tricia displayed was Intimidation. She used her seniority and stature in the department as her tool to intimidate these other employees. She also showed signs of Isolation/exclusion towards her victims making them feel alone in the company. Another sign that was missed was the fact that Tricia made her victims feel shame and guilt of doing a bad job with their assigned tasks. One big sign that the Human Resource department missed was Tricia’s pitting employees against each other.

Had the Human Resource department brought in other employees to collaborate the victim’s stories they would have found Tricia pitting other employees against her victims. Tricia was also known to have mood swings which are another sign where she would be mean or hostile in the morning and calmer in the afternoon. Two of the last signs that were missed initially were criticism and her act of creating a feeling of uselessness for her victims. It was her constant criticism of her victims that forced them to go to Human Resources and their decision not to feel useless at work anymore that allowed them to speak up. These signs come from the ERC website (Nov. 2013) Knowing now what the definition of workplace bullying is and some of the signs to be aware of in order to identify workplace bullying, it is time to look at all the different types of bullying that could arise in the workplace.

Workplace bullying specialists, Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie from the Workplace Bullying Institute have identified 4 different bully types that are commonly found in the workplace. The first is called the screaming Mimi. With this type of bullying the bully is outwardly rude and likes to yell. Their mission is to control the emotional climate of the workplace. Some of the key characteristics of this type of bully include being loud and abusive, They thrive on others fearing them, they are overly dominant, they are intimidating, and they are obnoxious. This is also the most common type of bullying in the workplace.

Next is called the constant critic. The Constant Critic bully can be harder to identify in the workplace. Their mission is to control a person’s identity and confidence. Some characteristics of this bully include being highly critical, they dismantle their victim’s confidence, they look for flaws in their victims to exploit, and they nit-pick everything their victims do.

The third type of bullying according to Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie is called the two-headed snake. The two-headed snake is one of the hardest types of bullies to detect as you do not realize what they are until they have already done damage. This bully is two-faced and may initially seem to be an ally. Their purpose is to control their victim’s reputation. They do this by acting as a friend but are really trying to destroy their victim’s reputation. They also take credit for someone else’s work. They backstab and are usually passive aggressive.

The fourth type of bullying is called the gate-keeper. While other types of bullies are actively doing something to their victims, the Gate Keeper doesn’t ‘do’ anything—it’s what they don’t do that’s the problem. Some of the key characteristics of this type of bully include excluding others from social interactions, they wield their power over others, they are dismissive, and they are malicious and usually strike at great times of vulnerability at their victim’s. Although these are the four most common types of workplace bullying there are other types of bullying that can be used and a very skilled bully may use a combination of any number of bullying styles in any given day to bully their victim’s.(Garcia, 2016)

It is said that bullying at work is like malignant cancer. It creeps up on you long before you – or anyone else – are able to appreciate what it is that is making you feel the ill effects. Yet despite the fact that the majority of the adult population spends more waking hours at work than anywhere else, the disturbing manifestations of adult bullying, in this particular context, are widely dismissed (Adams, 1992, p. 9).

This next section will look at what workplace bullying costs businesses and the employees who work for them. One of those costs includes employee absenteeism caused by workplace bullying. Research conducted earlier has suggested that the potential productivity and economic impact of preventive or therapeutic interventions addressing workplace bullying on yearly overall productivity loss might range from about 2010 US$ 4200 to 5200 for each case prevented. (Fattori, 2015) Thus, for each person driven out of the company who earned a $50,000 salary, the recruiting and replacement expenses are $75,000. In some studies, these costs are estimated to be over $250 million annually in expenditures related to health care, litigation, employee turnover, and retraining employee costs. (Grimm, 2015) If a complaint is actually filed in court and a lawsuit ensues, the cost escalates rapidly to defend the employer. Filing costs, depositions, transcripts, investigation costs all combine to raise a modest defense to $60,000 years before a trial can be scheduled. Trial costs raise the totals even higher. Once you know all the costs associated with workplace bullying the calculation listed below can be used to fully understand the business costs of allowing workplace bullying to happen. Turnover + Opportunity Lost + Absenteeism + Presenteeism + Legal Defense Cost + Dispute Res. + Trial Costs + Settlements + WC/Disab Fraud Investig = The Routine Cost of Allowing Bullies to Harm Others with Impunity. (Namie, 2018)

Knowing the costs to businesses of not only losing good employees but all the other costs associated with workplace bullying the question has to be asked of how to prevent it. Workplace bullying has garnered considerable interest in most of the developed countries in the world. It is one of the most discussed, debated and legislated issues in labor law regime. In 1993, Sweden was the first country to implement legislation specifically outlawing bullying at work, which was followed by a plethora of countries who have devised many different legal strategies to counter bullying at the workplace. In the multilateral level, much progress has been made by the European Union. International labor organization (ILO) has issued various reports and directives on bullying at the workplace but has stopped short of drafting a binding convention or recommendation (Harthill, 2010), even though as per an ILO study it has reached epidemic proportions in many countries (ILO, 2006). (Stephan, 2017)

The truth is that anti-bullying laws in most of the countries do not provide an exhaustive list of bullying behaviors, and in spite of wide criticism follow the reasonable person test for determining as to what constitutes bullying as different from reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner (Réaume, 2003). Hence, it makes it very difficult for laws to clearly identify workplace bullying which is why a clear, unambiguous definition of workplace bullying becomes all the more important from a regulatory standpoint. (Stephan, 2017) However, businesses can try to take a stand on their own to try to eliminate workplace bullying. As an organization, there are several strategies listed below that you can use whether you’re an organizational leader, a manager or supervisor, or any employee in your organization.

It’s important to remember that we are all responsible for creating and maintaining safe and respectful workplaces. From the top executives, middle management, human resources department, and every production member on the shop floor. Bullying can only exist in environments and cultures that allow It to take place. Everyone’s obligation towards workplace bullying is if it is seen or heard, say something about it, and remember that preventing and stopping workplace bullying starts with just one person.

In conclusion, this paper has answered the questions of what does workplace bullying look like, and how does it manifest in organizations? How do employees and organizations make sense of and respond to workplace bullying? Why is adult bullying at work so harmful? Why is workplace abuse so difficult to address and stop? How can workplace bullying be addressed or ameliorated? This paper has covered the costs and consequences of businesses allowing workplace bullying to exist within their companies. With all of the items identified within this paper, it is absolutely clear that companies who do not react or are not proactive towards preventing workplace bullying will suffer heavy costs and will lose potentially good employees because of being bullied. They shall also lose the person who has initiated the bullying and that will cause delays and heavy costs to replace them. The best way to prevent bullying from happening in the company is to have the plan, support, and empowerment for each employee to stand up to workplace bullying.

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A History of Bullying in My Workplace. (2021, Dec 11). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-history-of-bullying-in-my-workplace-essay

A History of Bullying in My Workplace

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