Bullies Hamper Work Environment
Less than 10% of workers experience bullying on the job. But for those who do, the consequences can be severe.
Ball State University researchers reviewed 2010 data from more than 17,000 workers who were asked, among other things about bullying on the job.
The study found that 8% overall reported they had experienced bullying, with women being far more likely to be the targets of bullying than men.
Of those who were bullied, researchers reported, they were far more likely to report physical and psychological responses to the bullying, including stress, loss of sleep, depression and anxiety.
The report, “Workplace Harassment and Morbidity Among U.S. Adults,” said these targets tend to report higher levels of low self-esteem, concentration difficulties, anger, lower life satisfaction, reduced productivity and increased absenteeism than those who said they were not bullied.
“Harassment or bullying suffered by American employees is severe and extremely costly for employers across the country,” Jagdish Khubchandani, a community health education professor at Ball State and the study’s lead author, told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 18. “The first thing that we have to do, and employers have to do, is admit that there is a problem,” he said.
Among other findings:
- Females were 47% more likely to be bullied or harassed than males;
- Victims of harassment were more likely to be obese and smoke;
- Female victims reported higher rates of distress, smoking, and pain disorders like migraines and neck pain; and
- Male victims were more likely to miss more than two weeks of work and suffer from asthma, ulcers, hypertension and worsening of general health.
- Bullying was more prevalent among hourly workers, state and local government employees, multiple jobholders, night shift employees and those working irregular schedules.
Khubchandani said that employees are generally reluctant to report harassment because the result is often “just handle it.” Companies need to have anti-bullying policies with teeth in them, and they can also conduct an annual survey of employees that includes gathering information about bullying.
An awareness campaign that educates managers on the signs of bullying such as employees chronically using personal or sick leave — will help to identify those who possibly are being targeted, he said.
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