Workers Feeling Bullied in the Workplace: Study

A new study by human capital solutions provider CareerBuilder finds the number of workers encountering bullies at the office is on the rise.  Thirty-five percent of workers said they have felt bullied at work, 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 also found nearly half of workers don’t confront their bullies and the majority of incidents go unreported. The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive from May 14 to June 4, 2012 and included more than 3,800 workers nationwide in the U.S. The survey results were released today, August 29.

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Of workers who felt bullied, most pointed to incidents with their bosses (48 percent) or coworkers (45 percent), while 31 percent have been picked on by customers, and 26 percent by someone higher up in the company other than their boss.

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.

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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

“How workers define bullying can vary considerably, but it is often tied to patterns of unfair treatment,” said Rosemary Haefner, VP of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.  “Bullying can have a significant impact on both individual and company performance.  It’s important to cite specific incidents when addressing the situation with the bully or a company authority and keep focused on finding a resolution.”

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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.

Twenty-seven percent of workers who felt bullied reported it to their Human Resources department. Of these workers, 43 percent reported that action was taken while 57 percent said nothing was done.

If you’re feeling bullied in the workplace, CareerBuilder suggests the following tips:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia.

Photo courtesy: CareerBuilder

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