Workplace Bullying: At What Point Will Employers Step in to Stop it?


Workplace Bullying: At What Point Will Employers Step in to Stop it?

Recently, the Workplace Bullying Institute held it’s 7th Annual survey for employers in the United States.  The question posed: “What will it take for U.S. employers to treat bullying as seriously as illegal forms of discrimination?”

The answers from the survey may surprise you.


Workplace Bullying: The Bad News from Employers

First the bad news.  A majority of employers, approximately 31%, said they never will, because the bullying serves a purpose.

This reflects several sad realities inside the workforce.  One misconception that bullying might “serve a purpose” comes from a type of workplace bullying behavior I call Manipulative Leadership.  These are leaders that believe bullying tactics such as pitting employees against each other and using scare tactics are good motivational techniques and good management. Other workplaces where the idea that bullying might “serve a purpose” is where there is Strategic Aggression, that is, where employers and workers are in a highly competitive environment and believe they must use bullying tactics to get ahead, or to win. I see this often in the fields of law, high finance, science, and academia. In both cases – bullying tactics are counterproductive and costly.


Workplace Bullying: The Good News from Employers

Now the good news.

Approximately 30% said they would stop if the law prohibited bullying behavior. And 23% would stop if they learn how expensive preventable bullying is.

Though we are still a ways off from having effective laws in the U.S. that might prevent or punish workplace bullying, (see: Workplace Bullying & The Law) the actual costs of bullying have been well researched and documented for quite some time.  Which means we can stop up to a third of bullying if employers were aware of just how much it is costing them


Workplace Bullying is Hugely Expensive

Huge, real world costs as a result of bullying behaviors can have a significant impact on employers’ bottom line.  These such as losses include:

  • loss of key employees
  • other turnover
  • lost production
  • absenteeism
  • presenteeism (when workers show up but are not doing their jobs)
  • health care costs
  • investigation
  • litigation

The hard facts about costs to your bottom line are available in my free report: Costs of Conflict.  You can get this report and other valuable information for free by signing up to my newsletter here.

I believe these losses are truly preventable, if you implement the right solution. If you need help assessing your workplace conflict situation, and you want to reduce its impact on your bottom line, contact me, Kathleen Bartle.

I’m Kathleen Bartle, a strategic consultant on workplace conflict to executives worldwide for more than 20 years.  My work brings individualized solutions to your teams’ lost productivity, loss of key personnel, low morale, and the high costs resulting from bullying, abrasive behaviors and interpersonal workplace conflicts.  You can contact me here.

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