Network - Fall 2011 - (Page 24)

O Feature Workplace Bullying North America’s Silent Epidemic By Ray Williams orkplace bullying has become a silent epidemic in North America, one that has huge hidden costs in terms of employee wellbeing and productivity. Also known as psychological harassment or emotional abuse, bullying involves the conscious repeated effort to wound and seriously harm another person — not with violence, but with words and actions. Bullying damages the physical, emotional and mental health of the targeted person. The workplace bully abuses power and endeavors to steal the target’s self-confidence. Bullies often involve others using tactics such as blaming the target for errors, unreasonable work demands, insults, putdowns, taking credit for the person’s work, threatening job loss, and discounting accomplishments. Bullying has become a serious problem in the workplace. In two surveys by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) and Zogby International, where bullying was defined 24 O W as “repeated mistreatment: sabotage by others that prevented work from getting done, verbal abuse, threatening conduct, intimidation and humiliation,” 35 per cent of workers experienced bullying first hand, and 62 per cent of the bullies were men. A Harris Interactive poll conducted in 2011 revealed that 34 per cent of women reported being bullied in the workplace. The WBI concluded while perpetrators can be found in all ranks within organizations, the vast majority are bosses — managers, supervisors, and executives. The Impact of Bullying Behaviour Bullies create a terrible toll within an organization. Their behaviour leads to increased levels of stress among employees, higher rates of absenteeism and higher than normal attrition. Because bullies often get results by getting more shortterm production out of employees, they are tolerated. One study by John Medina showed that workers stressed by bullying performed 50 per cent worse on cognitive tests. Other studies estimate the financial costs of bullying at more than $200 billion a year. A study by Dr. Noreen Tehrani, who counselled victims of violence in Northern Ireland, and soldiers returning from overseas combat and victims of workplace, concluded that bullying exhibited similar psychological and physical symptoms — nightmares and extreme anxiety, and a variety of physical ailments. Swedish researchers, led by Anna Nyberg at the Stress Institute in Stockholm, have published a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine on the issue of leaders’ behaviour and employee health. They studied more than 3,100 men in a 10-year period in typical work settings. They found that employees who had managers who were incompetent, inconsiderate, secretive, and uncommunicative, the employees were 60 per cent more likely to suffer a heart attack or other life-threatening cardiac condition. By contrast, employees who

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Network - Fall 2011

HRIA Chair’s Message
HRIA Membership
The Bully Wears Heels
Workplace of Respect — Addressing Violence & Bullying
Cyber-Bullying — A Workplace Issue
Workplace Bullying: North America’s Silent Epidemic
Workplace Bullying — An Employer’s Obligations
Seeing the Warning Signs — Domestic Violence in the Workplace
Legal Source
Ask Field Law
The HR Office True-life Tales from the HR Profession
Index of Advertisers

Network - Fall 2011