Study Finds Workers Feeling Bullied in the Workplace

TORONTO – A new study by CareerBuilder.ca finds 45 per cent of workers said they have felt bullied at work; a third of these workers reported they suffered health-related problems as a result of bullying and 26 per cent decided to quit their jobs to escape the situation.

The study also found nearly half of workers don’t confront their bullies and the majority of incidents go unreported. The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive© from May 14 to June 4, 2012 and included more than 550 workers nationwide.

Who Are the Bullies?

Of workers who felt bullied, most pointed to incidents with their co-workers (24 per cent) or boss (23 per cent), while 17 per cent have been picked on by customers, and 17 per cent by someone higher up in the company other than their boss.

More than half (55 per cent) of those bullied said they were bullied by someone older than they were, while 26 per cent said the bully was younger.

Weapons of a Workplace Bully

The most common way workers reported being bullied was not being acknowledged and the use of double standards followed by getting blamed for mistakes they didn’t make. The full list includes:

  • Used different standards/policies toward me than other workers – 50 per cent
  • Ignored – 49 per cent
  • Falsely accused of mistakes – 47 per cent
  • Constantly criticized – 36 per cent
  • Belittling comments were made about my work during meetings – 30 per cent
  • Someone didn’t perform certain duties, which negatively impacted my work – 30 per cent
  • Gossiped about – 29 per cent
  • Someone stole credit for my work – 25 per cent
  • Yelled at by boss in front of coworkers – 24 per cent
  • Purposely excluded from projects or meetings – 22 per cent
  • Picked on for personal attributes – 20 per cent

“How workers define bullying can vary considerably, but it is often tied to patterns of unfair treatment,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Bullying can have a significant impact on both individual and company performance. It’s important to cite specific incidents when addressing the situation with the bully or a company authority and keep focused on finding a resolution.”

Standing Up to the Bully

More than half (54 per cent) of victims reported confronting the bully themselves, while 46 per cent did not. Of those who confronted the bully, 43 per cent said the bullying stopped while 14 per cent said it got worse, and 44 per cent said the bullying didn’t change at all. A third of workers who felt bullied reported it to their Human Resources department.

If you’re feeling bullied in the workplace, remember the following tips:

  1. Keep record of all incidents of bullying, documenting places, times, what happened and who was present.
  2. Consider talking to the bully, providing examples of how you felt treated unfairly. Chances are the bully may not be aware that he/she is making you feel this way.
  3.  Always focus on resolution. When sharing examples with the bully or a company authority, center the discussions around how to make the working situation better or how things could be handled differently.

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PRNewswire