Is Workplace Bullying On the Rise?

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It’s strange to think that the answer to the question is a big resounding yes. Sadly, it’s a travesty as the workplace was supposed to be more mature than the school setting. Now that we’re adults, aren’t we better than this? According to recent reports, not so much.

What is Workplace Bullying?

Any sort of habitual behavior that worsens an employee’s physical or emotional well-being could be considered workplace bullying. Bullying can be targeted at one worker or a group of workers. This is especially insidious because the bully may be operating within the codes and policies of the workplace, but still causing harm. Some example of workplace bullying include:

  • Spreading rumors about an employee
  • Sending critical feedback about one employee to everyone in the office
  • Excluding employees from meetings or activities
  • Making vaguely threatening statements suggesting that an employee may be losing their job
  • Constantly criticizing and nitpicking an employee’s performance
  • Intentionally blocking training or promotion opportunities
  • Giving an employee too much work to do and then criticizing them for failing to meet deadlines
  • Making disparaging comments based on race, sex, orientation, or other factors

Keep in mind that workplace bullying is a consistent pattern, not a one-time event.

What Does the Research Say About Workplace Bullying?

The majority of workers suffer through it. It’s a fact. In fact, recent studies prove that it is, indeed on the rise, and may continue to rise for time given that there isn’t much of a legal precedence to deter many from inflicting the pain.

Almost 75% of all employees in one survey detailed by Workplace Violence 911 claimed victimization in workplace bullying. That’s a staggering number. The 2017 US Workplace Bullying Survey even stated a near-60% demographic.

As far as gender goes, the numbers are interesting: 70% of men tend to bully more whereas only 30% of women do the harsh deeds. However, women bully other women much more than men do—more than 65% of the time, in fact. The numbers suggest that women seem to carry much more unconscious bias against other women in the workplace, hence making workdays volatile and difficult to maintain jobs and security.

Believe it or not, but supervisors and superiors aren’t alone in the figures. Coworkers often play a huge role as well but with the major cornerstone being about a power struggle. There are focuses of class, structure and status in the workplace, leading to challenge and conflict daily, not to mention that this isn’t geographically limited.

One Australian study even found proof that almost one in two Australians face some sort of workplace bullying in their lifetimes, according to Forbes. Of all bullied down under, an astonishing 40% of them experience it early on in their careers, suggesting that newcomers into the workforce face the most of the storms.

Even a 2015 poll managed by YouGov for the Trade Union Congress saw that almost a third of all people in the United Kingdom face workplace bullying on a daily basis. Additionally, women are more likely to be bullies than men with a lot of occurring among 40- to 59-year-olds regularly. It’s clear that this trend’s common as well regarding culture and language: 1/3 of Asian employees experience bullying whereas only 18% of Caucasian employees face it consistently.

And furthermore, a UNISON survey back in 2011 made it very clear that 60% of 6K respondents claimed to have been bullied—or even witnessed it—at their job. To put an even larger number on it, the Acas in the UK ended up receiving 20K phone calls related to bullying issues in the year of 2015.

More Than Enough Proof  That Workplace Bullying Is a Real Thing

It’s then a wonder what anyone could potentially do—at least legally. Reputable companies do state in their manuals of the types of behaviors they expect, but that doesn’t often deter many from continually bullying or badgering. The important thing to do is to just not be one of the numbers of bullies in the workplace, continuing to do the job you’re paid to do.

Workplace bullying can create a hostile work environment through harassment and other harmful behaviors. If it gets to the point where you’re afraid to come to work, speak with an employment attorney to discuss your best course of action.