“Bullying wasn’t okay in elementary school and it isn’t okay now.” – John Doolittle, U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.
Sadly, bullies are alive and well in the American workforce. 37% of the U.S. workforce (an est. 54 million Americans) report being bullied at work; an additional 12% witness it. 49% of workers.
Key Findings Bullies and Bully Victims
The Workplace Bullying Institute‘s U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey (September 2007) reports these facts about bullying â€” defined as same-gender/same-race harassment ignored by current laws â€” in the workplace:
- Bullying is 4 times more prevalent than illegal forms of “harassment”
- American employers ignore bullying. In 62% of the cases, when made aware of bullying, employers worsen the problem or do nothing
- Most bullies are bosses, with 72% of bullies as bosses and 55% of those bullied are rank-and-file workers
- Bullying mostly affects women, with women being targeted in 57% of the cases and women targeting other women in 71% of cases
- Bullying is a public health hazard, with 45% bullied targets suffering from stress affecting their health
- Bullied individuals are not “sue crazy,” with only 3% filing lawsuits. In fact 40% fail to complain.
Top Tactics of Bullies
- Verbal abuse: swearing, name calling, malicious sarcasm, threats to safety, etc.
- Behaviors/action: public or private that were threatening, intimidating, humiliating, hostile, offensive, inappropriately cruel conduct, etc.
- Abuse of authority: undeserved evaluations, denial of advancement, stealing credit, tarnished reputation, arbitrary instructions, unsafe assignments, etc.
- Interference with work performance: sabotage, undermining ensuring failure, etc.
- Destruction of workplace relationships: among workers, bosses, or customers
Bullies are cruel and innovative. Most bullies are threatened by their targets, who are often more skilled than the bully.
Bullying is Top Down
- 43% of bullies have an executive sponsor
- 72% of bullies are bosses with women being targeted by bosses 74.7% of the time
- 55% of those bullied are non-supervisory employees
Bullies operate with confidence that they will not be punished because they enjoy support from higher-ups who can protect them if and when they are exposed.
What can you do if you’re being bullied?
Unfortunately, there are no laws protecting employees from bullying in the workplace.Â Suing your employer is expensive. Your privacy will be lost because your health records will be available for your bully and employer.
Regardless of whether you pursue a legal remedy, have an exit strategy to get out of your dysfunctional work environment, get help if you need it to get healthy again, and use the Workplace Bullying Institute’s strategy to find a safe employer for your next job.