Bullying on the Job

I read this amazing article yesterday on one of my favorite blogs (glassdoor.com).  Take a quick look at the survey that was conducted by AOL – According to an AOL Jobs Survey,”22 percent of the respondents have personally felt threatened or bullied at work. Of those, 57 percent state it was from their manager, while 47 percent say it was from a peer, and 79 percent say that the abuse they experienced was verbal. Twenty-five percent have witnessed someone being bullied at work. Out of those people who witnessed it, 59 percent reported it.”

This marks one of the growing trends in the workplace due to the continued unemployment across the US marketplace.  Bullying per say has always been an issue, from the boss down, we have all heard the stories about who and when someone has been forced into something that was against policy through such actions.  But now, the behavior and the frequency has changed.  Some people believe there are several reasons, my focus is on one.  Unemployment. There is a sense of desperation surrounding almost every company environment in the US.  When will the next cut be?  Will I have a job tomorrow?  Who is going to stab me in the back and cost me my job?  These feelings, these environments, breed resentment in people and cause a long term cultural spiral downward that includes bullying.  People will do anything to keep their job, and that means anything.

Bullying sounds adolescent, but the truth is that the behavior is very similar.  From mouthing off, to group bullying, etc. – the actions are identical causing people to conform back to their child hood ways.  And if someone was the product of being bullied as a child, then that pattern can repeat itself in the workplace causing a negative work environment for that professional.  In the same manner which it causes negativity for the one, it causes a sense of security for the person performing the action.  I am in no way supporting the action, but the action becomes understandable when you see the root cause.  People are looking for security and that causes professionals to do very odd things and act out just as a child would do.  So what to do?

Most companies have a formalized policy manual specifically discussing the topic and a process for reporting it.  But look at the downward trend – managers are the largest group of professional abusers.  This in turn leads to a lower turn out of people reporting the abuse for the fear that was listed above.  Companies must create a sense of comfort as well as an internal reporting system that tracks these incidents regardless if they are formally reported.  The company internal security force, camera systems, and HR are a good place to start.  Combining them and getting them working on the same page can begin the process of creating a culture of safety and removing such actions from the workplace.

By Jason, Workfanatic

Marie Larsen
Marie is a writer for Recruiter.com covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.