HR Management & Compliance

Workplace Bullying: A Serious Problem

According to the most recent research report from The Workplace Bullying Institute, 27% of employees have directly experienced or continue to experience bullying at their place of employment. That’s almost one in three employees, an unacceptably high percentage occurring at what is supposed to be a professional work environment.

Take a look at the highlights from that same survey:

  • Seventy-two percent of the American public say that they are aware of bullying in the workplace.
  • The number one culprit is (still) bosses.
  • Of those polled, 72% actively discount, deny, rationalize, defend, or even encourage bullying.
  • Approximately 65 million workers either witness or experience bullying every year in the workplace.
  • Nearly everyone (93%) would support a bill aimed at changing bullying.

Defining Workplace Bullying

A company should clearly define bullying in its employee manual or where anyone can easily find it. BLR® defines bullying as any repeated, unreasonable behavior directed toward an employee, customer, or vendor that is intended to intimidate, that creates a risk to health and safety, or that results in threatened or actual harm. By including a section on bullying in the handbook, you have already taken an important step.


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It is recommended that all of the following activities be expressly prohibited:

  • Intimidating, threatening, or making hostile statements, actions, or gestures;
  • Excluding someone from workplace activities, social isolation;
  • Falsely accusing and punishing “errors” not actually made; blaming without justification;
  • Verbal abuse, demeaning comments;
  • Direct, conditional, or veiled threats;
  • Treating an individual differently than the rest of the work group;
  • Yelling, screaming, and other demeaning behavior;
  • Giving an individual the majority of unpleasant tasks;
  • Public humiliation; and
  • Hostility such as glaring, clenched fists, or a threatening posture.

The employee handbook should also contain a form or description of what steps to take if you are being bullied, including whom to inform and what will happen when a complaint is filed.

A Closer Look

According to the survey discussed above, the current method of resolving bullying in the workplace is terrifying. Nearly three-quarters of the methods used to stop bullying involve actions taken towards the victim. And, the majority of that three-quarters (61%) involved the victim losing his or her job. Take a look at these numbers:

29% of bullying was stopped because the victim quit. 19% of bullying was stopped because the victim was forced out. 13% of bullying was stopped because the victim was fired, and 13% of bullying was stopped because the victim was transferred.


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