I was recently exposed to a CareerBuilder Survey stating that workplace bullying is on the rise. This is baffling when you consider the trend toward E.Q. style management and the infinite supporting evidence that autocratic, threatening and fear-based management practices are not only highly ineffective, but often times drag companies into dire legal consequences.
According to the data in the CareerBuilder survey, as many as 35 percent of workers feel bullied at work, up from 27 percent last year. And it may not be surprising that 16 percent of these workers have suffered health-related problems as a result of bullying, and another 17 percent claimed that bullying forced them out the door, quitting their jobs.
It’s also not very surprising that nearly half of workers don’t confront those who bully them, and the majority of the incidents go unreported. After all, who wants to confront the one signing the paychecks?
Workers who felt bullied said the behavior came from the following people:
• 48 percent pointed to incidents with their bosses
• 45 percent said they were bullied by coworkers
• 31 percent said they have been picked on by customers (no, the customer is NOT always right)
• 26 percent said they were bullied by someone higher up in the company other than their boss
Following are the different ways workers are bullied:
• 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 co-workers—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; and,
• Picked on for personal attributes—15 percent.
The very sad fact is that of those managers who bully, some of them may actually believe bullying motivates people to work harder and longer, or that bullying is “no big deal” especially if they are, or have been bullied by their boss and survived. And confronting a bully in the workplace is not like confronting a bully on the school playground – kids on the playground don’t hold your livelihood in their hands.
So bullied employees have a choice – either confront their bullying boss head on, or put their heads down and just take it. Of course, everyone has a boiling point and is at high risk of exploding in anger if pushed too far. And this is precisely the reason that confronting someone at the first instance of being bullied is critical, and must be done the proper way through the use of confrontive I-Messages – a very important and effective skill taught in strong leadership training programs.
And if the bullying continues, ask yourself if it’s worth your physical and mental health to subject yourself to abuse every single day.
The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive from May 14 to June 4, 2012, and included more than 3,800 workers nationwide.