• Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace

    Why U.S. Employers Do So Little

    Many of the facts below have been confirmed by the 2007 WBI-Zogby Survey.

    Bullying is Legal

    Most workplace harassment and mistreatment (80%) is completely legal. Remarkably, a hostile work environment is actionable (illegal) only in very few situations.

    America’s individualistic society feeds aggression and competition in the workplace. These traits block an empathic concern for the well-being of others, make bullying look tame when compared to other forms of physical violence, and justify inequality of status across ranks within organizations — dubbing a few as winners and the rest losers. Bullying is not only tolerated in business, it is often seen as necessary. Lawmakers are reluctant to pass laws that reign in unfettered workplace violence resulting in psychological injury.

    Poor Leadership, Inept Managers

    The majority of bullies (72%) are bosses…

    • Bullies derive most of their support from…HR. It’s a club, a clique, that circles the wagons in defense when one of their own is accused.
    • Some executives command bullies to target particular employees. Bullies are simply good soldiers following orders in a blind fashion.
    • Supervisory training is nearly nonexistent. No budget. No time. Few good skills taught. OJT transmits bad habits.
    • Executives blame the problem on a “few bad apples,” deflecting blame for systemic causes and denying responsibility for systemic cures.

     Employers Don’t Know How to Stop Bullies

    Everyone walks on eggshells and is afraid to confront “the golden” bully, the boss’s favorite. HR misapplies the tools of traditional conflict resolution, for example, mediation. Wrong solution for the actual problem. The workplace culture holds no one accountable. Confronting bullies is unthinkable. Executives and senior managers have been badgered by the bully, too. They are afraid of an emotional confrontation. They loathe conflict and remain paralyzed. By not acting, they tacitly endorse the bully. They fear lawsuits brought by the bully if they dare investigate or punish the bully. There is rarely a basis for such suits. The fear is irrational.

    Bullying Is Underreported

    • Forty percent (40%) of targets never tell their employers…
    • Bullying is erroneously branded as “conflict” or a mere “difference in personality styles.”
    • Both are true, but bullying is also a form of violence. Simple labels minimize its impact on both people and the organization.
    • Historically, complaints lead to retaliation (revengeful hurting) or reprisal (taking away of rights or status).

    Knowing this, targets are reluctant to use internal employer processes.


    From: Workplace Bullying Institute: www.workplacebullying.org