Friday Factoids: Bullying in the Workplace



Bullying. What do you think of when you hear that word? What age demographic immediately springs to the forefront of your mind? What specific behaviors and images does your mind immediately conjure?


Without being especially informed or at all learned about the topic, I would have guessed that bullying reaches its peak around elementary school, and progressively wanes as children become more mature going through middle and high school. That’s not to ludicrously state that bullying completely and magically dissolves in the teenage years, but rather a (speculative) statement that traditional bullying behaviors (name calling, hitting, etc.) are not as frequent or blatant as children progress past elementary school.


A new nationwide study conducted by CareerBuilder that polled 3, 400 full time employees in the private sector across many different industries yielded results indicating that nearly 33 % of individuals in the workforce experienced bullying and, startlingly, 20 % have left their job due to it. Rosemary Haefner, an HR representative, stated that “Bullying impacts workers of all backgrounds regardless of race, education, income, and level of authority within an organization.” Although workplace bullying tended to affect more women than men (34% to 22 %), both ratios were fairly high. Regarding ethnicity, the numbers of those that felt bullied were relatively even: 25 % Latino, 27 % African American, and 24 % Caucasian.


“Professional bullying” is difficult to tackle head on, as the metric defining this kind bullying is elusive, diffuse and ambiguous. It is not the relatively basic conceptualization of bullying that exists in the schoolyard, which generally existed within the parameters of simplicity. This type of bullying has evolved to become increasingly complex and insidiously adaptive. “Professional bullying” can be direct, such as belittling, intimidation, and open criticism in front of others, or more subtle, such as passive aggressiveness, being ignored or dismissed, or being excluded from projects, etc. What do you make of this information? Are you at all surprised? What steps can be taken to reduce professional bullying?


Dill, Catherine. (2014, September).  One in five workers have left their job because of bullying.  Retrieved from Forbes.


Faisal Roberts, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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