Workplace bullying

What is workplace bullying?

Workplace bullying meaning could be stated as a repeated pattern of behaviour that is physically and emotionally harmful for another person or group of people in the workplace.

What qualifies as abuse in the workplace?

There are various forms of workplace harassments with numerous signs and interpretation that can be missed, even by the most diligent HR specialists. With some variations, several academic researchers have adopted the following typology of harassment at work behaviour. Five different categories are used for the type.

  • Personal status threat – including personal integrity undermining, destructive insults and sarcasm, inadequate jokes about the target, persistent teasing, calling names, insults, intimidation.
  • Threat to occupational status – including discouraging views, professional humiliation, lack of effort charges, disturbing discipline and competence procedures.
  • Isolation – including prevention of access to possibilities, isolation, retention of information, exclusion or exclusion of targets.
  • Overwork - including excessive pressure, unnecessary time limits and interruptions.
  • Destabilization: failure to recognise the good work, assignment of meaningless tasks, removal of responsibility, repeated recalls of error, target setting for failure, moving goal posts without specifying the goal.

What are the types of workplace bullying

Research by the Workplace Bullying Institute, suggests that the following are the 25 most common workplace bullying examples:

  • Incorrectly accused somebody with "errors". (71 percent)
  • Gazed, stared down, intimidated nonverbally and showed obvious hostility. (68 percent)
  • Putting off ideas and opinions of the person in meetings ("Oh, that's stupid") (64 percent).
  • Using "silence" to "isolate" and to distinguish between employees (64 percent).
  • Made-up fly rules which oneself doesn't even follow (61 percent).
  • Despite evidence (discreditation) Satisfactory or exemplary quality of the work completed (58 percent).
  • Hard and constantly criticized, with a different target standard (57 percent).
  • Disturbing rumours or gossip about the person have emerged or not stopped (56 percent).
  • Inspired to turn against the tormented person (55 percent).
  • One person, socially or physically, isolated from other employees (54 percent).
  • The behaviour showed publicly gross, undignified, but not illegal (53 percent).
  • Yelling, thrown tremors to humiliate a person in front of others (53 percent).
  • Credit stole for other people's work (47 percent).
  • Declared target "insubordinate" because arbitrary commands are not followed (46 percent).
  • Confidential information is used for privately or publicly humiliating a person (45 percent).
  • The person has been retaliated upon filing of a complaint (45 percent).
  • Oral gender, race, accent, age, language, handicap-based put-downs/insults (44 percent ).
  • Unwanted work assigned to punishment (44 percent).
  • Unrealistic requests created for the individual (heavy workload, deadlines, duties) (44 percent).
  • Started an unfounded campaign to remove the person; the employer did not stop the effort (43 percent).
  • encouraged the individual to stop or transfer rather than face further abuse (43 percent).
  • Sabotaged the contribution of the person to a team objective and reward (41 percent).

What are the effects of workplace bullying

Stress is the most prevalent health effect linked to harassment at work. Research shows that stress at work has significant negative effects linked to bad mental health and poor physical health, resulting in an increased use of 'healthy days' or working hours.  

Furthermore, colleagues who witness workplace bullying can also have adverse effects, such as fear, stress and emotional fatigue. Those who are repeatedly abused at work often choose to leave the place of work for the abuse. Organizational characteristics such as group cohesion, peer communication and overall achievement can also be impeded by workplace bullying.  

In addition to the obvious risk of employees resigning or taking long periods of leave because of bullying, employers should also understand the potential for present-eyeism - when employees are active but are too affected by bullying to do their job effectively.  

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