A new study by CareerBuilder finds that workplace bullying is on the rise, with 35 percent of workers reporting they have felt bullied on the job, up from 27 percent last year.
Sixteen percent of these workers reported they suffered health-related problems as a result of bullying and 17 percent decided to quit their jobs to escape the situation.
The study found the majority of incidents go unreported. Twenty-seven percent of targets said they reported the bullying to their Human Resources department. Of these workers, 43 percent reported that action was taken while 57 percent said nothing was done.
The scientific survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive from May 14 to June 4, 2012 and included more than 3,800 workers nationwide.
Who Are the Bullies?
Of workers who felt bullied, 48 percent pointed to incidents with their bosses and 26 percent to someone higher up in the company. Forty-five percent said the bullies were coworkers while 31 percent were picked on by customers.
More than half (54 percent) of those bullied said they were bullied by someone older than they were, while 29 percent said the bully was younger.
Weapons of a Workplace Bully
The most common way workers reported being bullied was getting blamed for mistakes they didn’t make followed by not being acknowledged and the use of double standards. The full list includes:
- Falsely accused of mistakes – 42 percent
- Ignored – 39 percent
- Used different standards/policies toward me than other workers – 36 percent
- Constantly criticized – 33 percent
- Someone didn’t perform certain duties, which negatively impacted my work – 31 percent
- Yelled at by boss in front of coworkers – 28 percent
- Belittling comments were made about my work during meetings – 24 percent
- Gossiped about – 26 percent
- Someone stole credit for my work – 19 percent
- Purposely excluded from projects or meetings – 18 percent
- Picked on for personal attributes – 15 percent
Standing Up to the Bully
About half (49 percent) of victims reported confronting the bully themselves, while 51 percent did not. Of those who confronted the bully, half (50 percent) said the bullying stopped while 11 percent said it got worse, and 38 percent said the bullying didn’t change at all.
The company offers the following tips for workers who are feeling bullied:
- Keep record of all incidents of bullying, documenting places, times, what happened and who was present.
- Consider talking to the bully, providing examples of how you felt treated unfairly. Chances are the bully may not be aware that he/she is making you feel this way. (Personally, I disagree. Most bullies know exactly what they are doing. A small percentage are actually psychopaths ,completley lacking in empathy. Use your judgment when confronting a bully – it may work but it also could escalate the problem or the bully could lay low until he/she sees the opportunity to finish the job.)
- Always focus on resolution. When sharing examples with the bully or a company authority, center the discussions around how to make the working situation better or how things could be handled differently.
Surveys consistently show that between a quarter and a third of workers have felt bullied on the job. Furthermore, there is overwhelming research that workplace bullying can lead to potentially severe mental and physical health problems. Yet, efforts to address the problem in the United States over the past decade have proved fruitless up to now. Meanwhile, many other industrialized countries have adopted regulations or laws to address workplace bullying which place the responsibility upon the employer to insure a safe bully-free workplace for employees.
Readers can sign a petition calling up the Secretary of Labor to take action to address the epidemic of workplace bullying by going here.
CareerBuilder’s on-line site, CareerBuilder.com®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 49 million resumes.