Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is a repeated behavior towards an employee or groups of employees that may be create a health, physical or psychological harm (Chamaz, 2006). Workplace bullying is always an abuse of power by a senior employee to the minor employees. It may occur physically, electronically, politically, financially, socially and mentally. It might cause physical and psychological distress to the victim. The intent is always deliberate and many a times its done to the victim in front of the workmates, customers or even clients to make the victim  feel small even to their colleagues.

Workplace bullying can be in many forms. It can be experienced from employees in the higher rank towards those a lower rank or may be vice versa. It can range from manager to workers, workers to co-workers and workers to the manager. Bullying can be direct or indirect. Indirect bullying is harder to recognize as compared to the direct one. This is because it often happen behind the employee’s knowledge and causes a lot of harm. It becomes difficult for the employee to figure out who set the trap to them and may take time. It causes harm, humiliation and destroys the employee’s reputation. Some of the activities may include lying, gossiping, spreading rumors, name-calling, teasing, mimicking, or worse still encouraging others to exclude them.

It is a risk to the victim’s health and safety. It causes low productivity since they lose their psych as well as self-esteem in the workplace. This may affect the firm as well as the individual adversely. The individual may opt to quit the job altogether to avoid the harassment. The firm may incur losses since the position of the victim becomes unoccupied. It may prove difficult to find a worker who would immediately replace the individual. It may take time and resources to get such.

Organizations must be creative to be successful. They have to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to every worker. The atmosphere has to be conducive enough to foster innovation and risk taking. It should be fit for the workers to be as competitive as the company would want yhem to be. Workplace bullying is not only a stifle to the productivity but also threatens the whole work organization since bullies target the most talented and most productive workers in the organization. Thus is a threat since the much-needed human capital negatively affected and worse still they may get an expulsion from work.

Bullies are crafty and are hard to identify since they work under cover. They appear to civil and cooperative at the surface but on the other hand do everything to undermine the efforts of those they target. They, at times work with the established company policies and rules to harm their targets. For instance, a coworker may tend to criticize what a fellow worker says or does. This is legal but the intent is. The effect of this to the morale of the target may be significant.

Sometimes, group ‘mobbing’ happens when one bully spreads a rumor and public discrediting through innuendo to create a hostile environment for the targeted person. The bully then gathers others to go against then targeted person and spread the rumor as well. The result of this is resignation, termination, or early retirement from job. We can compare mobbing in an organization to a cancer cell that spreads very fast and destroys all the vital elements of an organization.

The media has featured stories of workplace bullying and suggested that it is common in many places. According to the latest statistics, workplace bullying is as prevalent as illegal discrimination and may even surpass it in a few years’ time if stern measures do not apply. Workplace bullying is more common than sexual abuse and verbal insults (Randle, 2006).

Workplace bullying has some distinct characteristics. It is a repeated habit, it takes place for a longer period, it is work related, involves power imbalance making it hard for the one affected to defend oneself and includes work related exclusion. It may be direct or indirect.

We, however, cannot term any behavior that makes a person feel upset and devalued at work workplace bullying. Some behaviors may not be intentional and may not qualify to be workplace bullying. However, if such behaviors repeatedly occur, they may be termed as such.

Reasons why Workplace bullying occur

Bullying ranges from violent behaviors such as aggressive screaming, yelling, threats, and underhand displays. Making unrealistic job requests, criticizing, and excluding some employees from some activities are signs of a bully. Their quest for power and control motivates bullies. They want the targeted persons to feel the impact of their authority. They do not want to seem weak in the eyes of their targets.

Bullies thrive in the corporate world since it is according to the male experience and represents the military and sports as demonstrated for generations (Zapf, 2005). Sometimes, Organizational power hierarchies, competitive work climates and the bunker mentality of contemporary corporate life all provide a hospitable environment for the toxin of disrespect, and even induce it, from bosses who would otherwise be just (Tehrani, 2012).

The desire to dominate is the major reason why bullying exists. Just like in a sport, the perpetrator will want to be the one who wins. They want to be the ones who is at the upper hand when it comes to power and authority. It is a matter of making profit and making it in the business. They cannot afford to lose.

Results of bullying

Bullying brings adverse effects to all those concerned, starting from the bully, the target, the company and to the ‘by standers’ (fellow workmates). Research shows that one third of stress related illnesses areas a result of workplace bullying (Acais, 2006). An estimation of over forty million workdays are lost due to inconveniences brought by bullying. The company therefore suffers a huge loss. The company also loses at least twenty-five percent of its employees because of this. At times, there could be strikes and demonstration in opposition of bullying. This may cost the company many funds since the mob may loot and destroy property. Long term effects may include legal costs  healthcare costs and time lost in courts to attend to cases filed against them . This may lead to reduction in productivity giving the competitors a chance to thrive. The company tarnishes its name to the public and becomes hard for it to reach the targeted profit.

The damage caused to the target is unmeasurable. It leads to physical and emotional problems. It leads to low self-esteem and anxiety. The target’s concentration is affected hence the productivity. The target may resolve to drug and substance abuse to ease the pressure bestowed on them. This may lead to carelessness in the workplace since they are not able to handle clients and other work mates. The company may finally resolve to expel the worker, which may lead to further depression of the victim. This denies the victim a chance for career advancement. Worse still it may be a start of family feuds since the target can no longer cater for the family’s needs.

Possible solutions

The heads should not tolerate any kind of harassment and should therefore take the right measures to prevent it from happening. We discuss some of the things that the management can do to curb workplace bullying.

Policies and procedures

Policies work best where more than one person is concerned. It is always good to introduce policies that govern the way the workers relate to each other. Employers should consult the workers when making the policies just to make sure they feel as part of it. After setting and establishing them, it will be easy to solve any problems that may arise. The set rules may as well serve as a point of reference when the leaders are in need of addressing an issue. It should consist a guide to spell out the employees expected conduct, the do’s and don’ts. The policies should target giving the workers conducive working conditions where they can generate a sense of belonging. It should be relevant to the actual business that should include communication through email, text messages, and social media. It should give clear outlines on how to report cases of bullying.

The work policy established needs promotion through different media such as print and social. The management should also enhance the policies through training.

Encourage reporting cases of mistreatment and bullying

The employees should be encourage to report any cases they encounter on bullying from fellow employees or those in the management. However, they will be likely to report if they have confidence in the administration and the set rules. They have to get the assurance that justice will follow. There should be a panel where the complaints put up by employees get attention and the necessary steps taken. The panel should take immediate action once an employee reports a case. They should provide support and assistance to the assaulted employee(s). The panel should as well assess if the set rules are effective in preventing bullying.

The administration can encourage reporting by having a habit of rapidly responding to the issues raised. This will increase the trust the employees have for them. They should also regularly provide information about the number and type of cases solved after a measured period.




The employees may be supervised if need be. Line managers should know what to do in case they learn of a problem in their work group. They should make sure that all new employees get a briefing on the working conduct before they start their work. The supervisors should as well be able to recognize early signs of bullying. They should be able to stop it all together.

Early intervention

It is a way of solving a problem without necessarily having to involve a formal report. The supervisor can achieve this by solving out the issue directly with individuals who are involved or seeking help from someone else to raise the issue. The managers should know how to investigate a given issue effectively. They should set the scope of the investigation by getting to know the allegations to be tested. They may also employ an external investigator if the case appears complicated. They should make sure they listen to both parties ion different sittings. They should observe a high level of confidentiality too.

After an investigation, the management should take steps both at organizational level and at an individual level as well. In the organizational level, they should run an awareness session to the rest of the employees addressing the issue but not disclosing a specific reported case. They should review the workplace policy with the employees and the managers to ensure it is an all-time effective policy. At an individual level, the administration should direct the employees to stop the behavior; they should encourage the parties to apologize to each other. They should then provide counseling sessions to the employees.



Literature review

An organization conducted a survey on violence and harassment among a group of companies in the European Union (EU- OSHA 2010). In the survey, the respondents were required to evaluate the presence of harassment in the companies. The were made to understand what the word harassment meant (any repeated, unreasonable behavior against an employee meant to victimize, humiliate or undermine them)

Nineteen people gave their opinion, and among them, fourteen (four men and nine women) reported that the level of harassment in their companies was not appropriate. Only one man saw it as appropriate compared to four women. If the level of harassment in these companies were not appropriate, they gave out the reasons they thought this was happening. They gave out the following reasons: lack of relevant information, lack of the appropriate methods for managing the issues affecting the employees, limited scientific evidence, and low prioritization of such issues that lead to the harassment

With regard to bullying, the team asked different people if they had been subjected to harassment and bullying at work in the past six months. There employees were from twelve different companies. Exposure to harassment was majorly experience in company 1, where 9.5% of its workers said they had experienced bullying in one way or another in their company. Company 2 had 8.6% of its employees having subjected to bullying. There was a slight drop in the percentage in company 3, which had 7.7%. Company 4 had 7.2%, company 5 (7.2%), company 6 (6.2%), company 7 (5.5%), company 8 (5.5%), company 9 (0.6) and the least was company 10 with 0.2%. women reported more harassment (5.6%) than their male counterparts (3.8%). The female respondents reported that at least they had an occurrence of harassment once per week.

The perpetrators identified were different in different companies. In companies 1,5,6,7 and 8, the perpetrators were majorly the colleagues while in companies 2,3,4,9 and 10; they were the people in the superior positions. The studies established that the perpetrators are both men and women. At times, women bullied their fellow women and at times men did. Cases where men are exclusively bullied by women are however rare. This may be because of difference in power positions the men and women hold in their respective companies.

When the company managements gave their views, they gave bullying and harassment as a major problem for over 20% managers. The concern was highest in company five where over 68% of the heads named it as a major challenge.

The companies however had put in place measure to curb the challenge. They have procedures put in place to ensure bullying comes to a halt. Such measures included publishing books and journals. The books emphasized much on anti-bullying activities and the penalties for bullying. They also set rules to govern the relationship among the employees.

Strengths and weaknesses of the statistical data


They help get the general feeling of the people making them express what they could not have found a platform to express.

They are inexpensive since the person collecting the data can hand in questionnaires via mail and receive them through the same. One does not incur the traveling expenses.

Pone can get the opinion of a large group of people as well as individual, feelings in a very easy way.

The data can provide in depth information that can be a tool for the companies to better their relationships with the employees.

The validity of the answer given can be accurately measure.


They are short and precise

They may sometimes be hard to interpret


Several limitations of research exist since the interviewed workers may be currently or had previously worked as casual laborers. They may not have had all the information needed to complete the survey. The participants may not be sincere since they had been under the influence of their positions in the company. The workers who had retired from the job a while ago may have suffered from memory loss. They may have forgotten of some events that happened when they were still in the companies. Those who may recall some parts of their occurrences may add some untrue statements to make their stories sound sweeter.

Workplace bullying brings many adverse effects to both the welfare of the individual as well as well as the company or organization. It develops from a light note and becomes too hard to bear. At this point, the employee may decide to leave the organization or may get an expulsion. According to Leymann, 2007, the process develops through slander, deceit, insults, injustice, or special treatment.

At times, bullying seems as a way of solving some issues in the workplace but ultimately end up making matters worse. It may leave problems bigger than what the seniors were trying to solve after an employee gets an expulsion. The bullied individual does not only experience betrayal and harassment, but also receive support from other individuals and groups in the surrounding
environment, which temporary alleviates the psychological strain Nevertheless; this
support cannot prevent the continuing process of bullying (Walden, 2004)

Workplace bullying bring psychological trauma, which may be adversely affect one’s health. The repeated bad treatment causes a feeling of guilt shame and lowers the self-esteem of the victim. Returning to normal life may prove to be a problem for such an employee. It takes a lot time and may not necessarily die completely. The feeling may keep one awake for lack of sleep. This may bring even further and worse treatment at the workplace. Bullying can therefore be the reason to ill health of a worker in a company,

Those who have had exposure to bullying should be encouraged to seek professional advice from a qualified counselor. This may probably help them let go of any grudge that may have mounted in them towards the perpetrator(s). Where possible the people should be encouraged to apologize to each other.

Some organizations have come up to voluntarily aid in eliminating bullying in workplaces. Such organizations play a major role in reconciling people and preventing possible conflicts. They help promote better legislation against bullying in workplaces. They educate the employees on what they should do at work and what the company expect of them.


The results show that almost everyone has had a bullying experience of, be it the vulnerable, strong or competent workers. Bullying may start as a small desire for power but then turns to be exploitation against the weaker party. The perpetrator’s major aim is to exclude the victim from physical contact with the workers. This then results to expulsion from workplace. Bullying causes a lot of suffering to the victim and may even last a lifetime. This explains why there is need to set up rules and policies to prevent bullying at all costs.

Bullying in the workplace has far-reaching consequences and the management should do everything within their power to eliminate it. The issue should just be to avoid bad publicity and the law as well as for the welfare of the workers, as is necessary to build a culture of respect among all the workers in the company. The set laws regarding bullying should strictly follow and monitor to keep the organization in good shape. The act should be punishable by law and anyone identified doing it should face the management before they are probably taken to a court of law. The offense is punishable by law should therefore be avoided at all costs.

Many a times the management may not acknowledge that there is bullying in their organizations. Policies have, however have, however, been made to improve the working environment of the workers but unfortunately, the .policies may not be implemented to the lowest level to reach the lowest rank in the workplace. The best way of solving a bullying problem is separation. It may be necessary to move the bullied person from the group to another one and probably give them another position in the organization. Notice for dismissal may also sound a warning of any consequences that may follow thereafter to the perpetrator. The management should not tolerate cases of bullying at any point. They should create a conducive environment for all workers to fit in. They should create measure tom reduce any existing cases nonetheless. They should include sanctions, compensations, and fines. This could probably change perpetrators’ view on their victims.

If anyone may feel bullied at the workplace, one should report the incidence immediately to the management. If they feel the management does not uphold justice, they may resolve to look for professional advice. Harassment is different from bullying and one should not confuse the two. Harassment is an offensive or an unwelcome conduct towards a person serious enough to affect the terms and conditions of a person’s employment adversely, which occurs because of the individuals protected class. (Gibbons, 2007)


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