I am highly grateful to my teacher, Honorable, Ms. Gurneet, under whose able guidance and supervision I got the required support and encouragement from the initial stage of the preparation of my term paper till the final stage in developing an appropriate understanding of the subject.
Under her valuable guidelines and directions I have made the efforts in making a project on the topic "WORKPLACE BULLYING" and throughout this term paper I have been rightly equipped with the required analytical and critical skills which helped me in the preparation of this term paper a lot and also to have a better understanding of the project. Without exaggeration, she is an able guide and a noble soul who guided me very accurately throughout this project.
Workplace bullying refers to the continuous criticism, negative comments on one's work or personality etc which harm the mental state of an employee much more than the sexual harassment.
As such, both the workplace bullying and the sexual harassment have an ability to create a negative aura but still, workplace bullying has much more adverse affects than the sexual harassment. According to a survey done, it was found that the employees who had undergone the workplace bullying in any form, say, belittling comments, abuses, continuous criticism etc had much more chances of being depressed, having inferiority complex, little job satisfaction and thus leaving their jobs than those who had undergone the sexual harassment.
In addition to this, it was also found out from the same survey that the employees who had experienced the workplace bullying had much more job stress, anger, anxiety and lower level of job commitment than the others.
According to Gary and Ruth Namie, "workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment, verbal abuse or conduct which is threatening, humiliating, intimidating, or sabotage that interferes with work or some combination of the three."
Hence it can be said that the workplace bullying refers to the humiliating comments, criticism, verbal abuses, fault-finding activities, isolation, excessive monitoring, excessive warnings may be either verbally or in the written form, etc.
Both the workplace bullying and sexual harassment have a negative impact on the employees but according to an analysis done it was found that the workplace bullying had much more negative impact than that of sexual harassment and it also forced the employees to quit their jobs in a greater number as compared to the sexual harassment cases.
Personality traits more prone to bullying
The people who have the dominating nature are usually found bullying others at the workplaces. Even the dominating nature has two aspects - positive dominance i.e. leadership and negative dominance i.e. dictatorship. So dictators are the people who actually practice the workplace bullying.
Facts and Figures
Each year, due to the practice of bullying around 18.9 million working days are lost and half of the mental illnesses of the employees are a result of this bullying only. It costs, according to estimation, around $3.7 bn to the US economy annually.
A survey on a population of 10000 employees was conducted and the result was that 92% of them said that they were currently being bullied out of which around 50% were being bullied by their bosses.
A study under the name "Bullying at work 2008" revealed the following facts:
- Since 3 years, 70% of the managers were being bullied
- Till then, 63% of the employees were being bullied
- 30% of the employees were witness to such practice of the workplace bullying
- In around 42% of the bullying cases, it was reported that no action had been taken by their organizations till then in such matters
According to a survey conducted in 2007, WBI reported that 34% of the American workers were being bullied at their workplace and as mentioned earlier also, nearly 50% of the employees were seriously affected mentally after witnessing bullying at their workplace.
The number of men bullies is around 62% in regards to 38% of the women bullies. The most stunning fact is that when women are being bullied, 75% of their targets are the other women. Also in the report it was revealed that in almost 65% of the cases, when the cases of such workplace bullying were reported to the employers, it was either worsened or ignored. It also demotivated the employees from reporting any such case to their employer in the near future. The employees who are being bullied, 77% of them either leave their jobs or change it to escape such situation.
Sleep Also Eludes Observers
Many of the people who had witnessed the workplace bullying also faced the disturbances in their sleep. According to a research done, it was found that around one-third of the employees who had witnessed the bullying during the past 12 months were suffering from sleep disturbances. It was also found out that:
- Men had higher chances of undergoing the sleep disturbances by 60% who saw someone else being bullied at their workplace.
- Even in women, the chances of sleep disturbances were as high as 20% who witnessed someone else being bullied at the workplace.
In case, the employees had both, witnessed and experienced the workplace bullying, then the chances for sleep disturbance were much higher in them.
Why do people bully?
Mostly, people bully because they want to hide their inadequacy. Bullying, actually, doesn't constitute even a single bit of the managing activity. It is an act of only those people who are in a rush to hide their inadequate potentials. So managing is an act of the good managers whereas bullying is an act of the bad ones. Mostly people bully because:
- They want to hide their inadequacy and also reluctant to find out the solution to such inadequacy.
- They are reluctant to accept the effect of their behaviour on other peoples' mental state.
- They don't want to be figured out as individuals who are incompetent and have no worthy potentials.
- They don't want their incompetency to come into the limelight.
The workplace bullying is the most ineffective and inefficient way of running any organization because the organizations where there is a scope for such an activity there is always a scope for the employees being highly dissatisfied, demoralized, demotivated etc leading to a high level of staff turnover and lower level of the employees' productivity and thus adversely affecting the organization's profitability. Such organizations can never prosper.
A bully, in real sense, is one who:
- Can never admit his misbehavior
- Lives in the adult world but is not ready to understand the norms of living in such world i.e. acceptance of responsibilities.
- Is reluctant to change his behaviour.
- Is always in a search of someone on whose shoulders he can pass on his workload.
Despite all their illusive projections, bullies can always be recognized as the ones who the least amount of self-confidence and the highest level of insecurity. They are the ones who are always in a fear of being recognized because of their inability to fulfill their obligations.
Bullying is mainly derived out of incompetency, aggression, feeling of being rejected and frustration.
Bullies are seething with resentment, bitterness, hatred and anger, and often have wide-ranging prejudices as a vehicle for dumping their anger onto others. Bullies are driven by jealousy and envy. Rejection (which cannot be assuaged) is another powerful motivator of bullying.
What does bullying look like?
The top 10 bullying tactics according to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute (WBTI) are as follows:
- Accusing others of the acts of which they are not even aware of. (71%)
- Nonverbal acts such as staring which completely depicted dominance. (68%)
- Discarding others' thoughts in public. (64%)
- Concocting gossips about others. (56%)
- Encouraging differences among the people. (55%)
- Constant criticism. (57%)
- No appreciation even for the best of the jobs done by the employees (58%)
- Building up the rules which even the bully himself doesn't follow. (61%)
- Verbal abuses. (63%)
- Discrimination on the basis of caste, color, creed or race. (64%)
What are the top 10 acts of workplace bullies?
- Discouraging others by speaking in between their work.
- Boasting off of their authority.
- Discouraging others when they are giving their opinions.
- Irresponsible towards their work.
- Nonverbal bullying like continuous staring.
- Verbal abuses.
- Shouting at others.
- Discrimination on the basis of caste and race.
Are there differences between genders?
According to a research done, WBTI noted that different gender of bullies chose different tactics of bullying which are under-mentioned:
- According to WBTI men bullies adopted the following tactics in more number than the women bullies:
- According to WBTI women bullies adopted the following tactics in more number than the men bullies:
The WBTI notes different tactics chosen based on the targets' gender:
- The women targets received the following tactics in more number than their men counterparts:
- The men targets received the following tactics in more number than their women counterparts:
Identifying the bully in a workplace:
If the following things exist in a department, then there definitely exists a workplace bully:
- A very high rate of staff turnover
- High rate of the leaves due to illness
- Nervous breakdowns
- Mortality rate
- High rates of voluntary retirements
- Outsourcing the task of keeping an eye on the staff
- Legal actions against the staff
Workplace bullying - Effects on an individual:
The under-mentioned are some of the psychological and physical problems faced by the targets of the workplace bullying:
- Lack of appropriate financial resources due to high rate of absenteeism
- Lack of self-confidence
- Blaming oneself for the occurrences
- Deep depression
- Reduction in the self-respect
- Highly disturbed sleep.
- Lack of self-adjusting behaviour
- Physical or mental disorder
- Eating problems
Workplace bullying - Effects on an organization:
All the effects of the workplace bullying mentioned above will impose the under-mentioned costs on an organization:
- Costs of hiring the new employees in place of those who have left the organization due to bullying.
- Diversion of the efficient efforts of the employees away from the productivity.
- Outsourcing costs for keeping an eye on the employees.
Thus, it can be rightly said that the bullies wash away the profit earning capacity of the organization because there is high rate of staff turnover, absenteeism, low self-esteem among the employees along with less job satisfaction and thus consequently leading to the high costs to be borne by the organization along with the lesser efficiency and productivity from the employees.
The physical or mental problems posed by bullying on the staff makes them feel uncomfortable in their work environment, underestimates their efficiencies and consequently leads to a loss in the organization because the employees won't be fully dedicated and honest toward the organization.
Difference between the workplace bullying and the harassment:
Harassment is a sort of conduct which is very offensive in nature which can lead to serious situations in the terms of contract of an employee regarding his employment. Its main reason for existence is the protected class of the individuals like caste, creed color, religion, sex etc.
- When an employee cracks racist jokes and refers to a particular group of co-workers and when such group lodges a complaint with the employer, then in turn, he does nothing to ratify such act of that very employee.
- When a male employee makes vulgar sexual suggestions to his female counterpart and tries to harass her physically.
Bullies' main targets
The individuals who possess the following qualities are the main targets of the bullies:
- Innovative skills.
- Intellectual individuals.
- Success and fame.
- Desire to be on the top.
- Imaginative and creative.
- Valuing others' opinions.
- Helping nature.
- Ability to adjust in adverse conditions.
- Willing to accept the challenging jobs.
Types of bullying
Pressure or unwitting bullying:It is a kind of bullying in which the person is highly stressed out of
which he becomes short tempered, frustrated and starts yelling on others. After a certain time period when he realizes his mistake, he asks for the apologies of others and tries his best not to repeat it in future.
It is a kind of bullying wherein the employer is in a dominating position and he embarrasses his employees by abusing them, being well aware of the fact that the opportunities for the jobs in the outside world are very scarce. E.g.:
- Unduly influencing the employees to work for 65-75 weeks at a stretch and if they are reluctant to their work the take undue punitive actions against them.
- Firing the unfit employees rather than bearing the losses caused due to their presence in the organization.
- Rejection of genuine sick leaves of the employees.
- Continuous spying of the employees through some outsourced agencies.
- Asking the employees to complaint about their co-workers and thus creating differences among them.
- Underestimating any employee who is not confident about himself rather than helping him come out of it.
It is a sort of bullying which takes place when the organization reacts to the external changes by adapting itself to the changed environments i.e. changed market standing of the organization, cutting the wage rates of the employees, meeting the changed consumer tastes and preferences and many other external influences.
It is that kind of bullying wherein the employees are forced to enter into such type of contracts with the employers in which the terms of the contract are not favorable for the employees or are less favorable along with an element of threat, huge workload, tight working schedules, unmanageable roles and such positions which have very less chances of promotions in it.
It refers to that kind of bullying in which the individuals are bullied by their customers/clients and are forced to render better quality services through verbal abuses or physical/mental torture. E.g.: patients bullying the doctors, clients bullying the lawyers, customers bullying the shopkeepers etc.
This is the most common and prevalent form of bullying in which the individual practicing bullying is always in a search of one after the other target and ruins their mindset landing them into serious mental stress.
The secondary bullying is that form of bullying which arises out of the existence of the serial bullying at the workplace. The serial bullying leads to a serious negative change in some of the employees who, in turn, become the secondary bullies.
The pair bullying refers to a serial bully along with a mate. Mostly, one of them actively bullies while the other watches silently. Often it is that silent individual who is worth keeping an eye on.
The gang bullying refers to a serial bully along with a gang who are formed in a corporate culture. An extrovert bully is easily identifiable because of his usual habits of yelling on others. On the other hand, an introvert bully can't be easily identified because he is a dormant participator in the act of bullying and also the most dangerous one because he concocts a story and tells it in different manner to different people, making them think that he is absolutely right and encouraging them to think against each other.
It refers to that kind of bullying wherein the two parties - one who bullies and the one who is bullied, both are involved in the conflicting interactions. Out of these two parties, the bully targets one party and encourages it to stand against the other party through their brain washing and manipulation.
The regulation bullying refers to that form of bullying in which the bully forcibly compels his target to follow certain laws/rules even if they are inappropriate or illegal.
In this form of bullying, the bully takes some punitive action against his target, legally.
It is that form of bullying which is left after all the above mentioned types of bullying and it can last for several years.
In this form of bullying, as the serial bully lacks the communication skills so he makes use of emails for expressing his aggression to his target individual. Therefore, a serial bully finds it very easy to express his aggression to his target via emails.
How to cease the workplace bullying:
If an organization sets strict standards and appropriate workplace ethical values, rules and regulations, laws, codes of conduct etc, then the superiors and the subordinates would behave appropriately in the best possible way. The individuals who apply for the jobs should be made well familiarized with the organization in order to avoid any sort of future conflict leading to bullying. The employees must be encouraged to report the bullying incidents to their superiors in the organization and the organization should take prompt actions to correct the negative aspect of the behaviour of certain employees so as to avoid the workplace bullying. Even after taking the corrective action the bullying doesn't stop then that employee practicing the workplace bullying should be fired.
Steps to be followed by the organizations for avoiding the workplace bullying:
- Appropriate workplace ethical values and policies should be set so as to avoid any inferiority feeling in any subordinate.
- Every personnel should be equipped with an appropriate training program.
- Appropriate complaining cells should be formed and the employees should be made well aware of the procedure of lodging the complaints via those cells against the workplace bullying.
- The employers should react very promptly to the employees' grievances regarding the workplace bullying through some corrective plus strict measures.
- An organization should be very particular in the application of its rules and regulations for the avoidance of the workplace bullying and ejecting strict discipline into the organization.
- Strict disciplinary actions should also be taken against the supervisors and the managers so that they protect their subordinates against the workplace bullying
- Last but not the least, the organization should be very particular while hiring its employees and should be on a look out for those individuals who have the traits of developing into potential bullies in future in the organization and thus, such individuals should not be hired.
An example of "WORKPLACE BULLYING POLICY" to be adopted by a company is as follows:
ABC Company recognizes workplace bullying as unethical and is not ready to tolerate it at any cost and under any circumstances.
Workplace bullying is that sort of behaviour which is completely unacceptable as it harms one's self-respect, peace of mind, degrades a person and inculcates a sense of very low level of dignity which can result into a serious loss to the organization through a high level of absenteeism, high labor turnover, low morale of the employees and inefficiency in the productivity level of the employees.
ABC Company wants and makes it possible for its employees to work in an environment which is completely free from such bullying activities and the same is fully ensured by the top executives of the company.
ABC Company has also availed the facility of the grievance cell especially for its employees so that they can easily report against the bullying activities, if any, taking place in an organization. Such grievance cells would react without any sort of bias to the complaints within 24 hours of the complaint and the same would be kept highly confidential.
ABC Company encourages all its employees to lodge a complaint against the bullying activity, if any, taking place in the organization and the managers ensure the safety of such employees by keeping their complaints highly confidential.
Strict disciplinary action would be taken against the individuals practicing such unethical act of workplace bullying like - warning, demotion, transfer etc depending on the degree of bullying done by that individual.
The name and contact number of the person with whom the complaint against the workplace bullying is to be lodged, is:
Phone Number: ______________________________________________________
The first and the foremost step that should be taken by a company to a bully-free environment is that it should be very alert while hiring the employees during the hiring process. The interviewing panel should carefully check the profiles of the candidates applying for the jobs and should take critical care of the past records of the candidates to properly work out if there is any discrepancy in their bio-data that can give rise to a potential bully. The panel should also analyze the reactions of the candidates by putting them into self-created different situations.
Mostly, the interviewers are of the mind set of hiring those candidates who possess the same qualities as theirs and it poses a serious threat to the organization if the interviewers themselves are serious bullies. Thus in order to avoid such a critical situation, the interviewing panel should be critically selected and decided and such panel should analyse the potential candidates in any and every aspect required for the job.
At the time of the interview, the interviewers must take good care of the gestures and the reactions of the candidates. The candidates should be knowingly put into a frustrating situation and then their reactions should be noted like, body language, pitch of their voice, their tone, level of frustration etc.
Also the supervisors and the managers should make all the possible efforts to avoid the workplace bullying by always being accessible to their subordinates to handle their grievances at any point of time; they should also be very gentle and polite while communicating with their subordinates. The managers should also possess more authority and responsibility with which they can keep their employees stay united and work as one single team thus, achieving the organizational goals effectively and efficiently.
The inappropriate behaviour of the individuals practicing the workplace bullying in an organization should be immediately reported to the concerned authorities and strict action should be taken for the same as soon as possible. The managers should warn such bullies making them aware of the fact that such behaviour won't be tolerated within the organization.