It’s a familiar scenario and it’s one that plays out day after day, in offices all across America.
You’re trying to do your job, but a coworker won’t give you the information you need to complete an important report on time. Or you’re no longer invited to meetings you used to attend.
Or, perhaps, fellow employees start treating you differently. When you walk by the water cooler, people avoid making eye contact.
It’s Friday and everyone on your team is going out to lunch to celebrate landing a big account. Except for you. That’s because you weren’t invited.
You may not realize it yet, but you’re probably a target of workplace bullying and, if multiple people are involved, it could even be a case of workplace mobbing.
More than one-third of workers in America report that going to the office is a dreadful undertaking, because they’re being bullied. The Workplace Bullying Institute has also found that when this happens, it’s rare for things to improve, either on their own or because the embattled worker tries to seek recourse through formal channels.
Consequently, the end result is job loss. This comes about one of two ways. The worker voluntarily gives his or her notice. Or the place of employment decides you’re no longer a good fit. That’s why, in 75 percent of corporate bullying incidents, the target must either find a new job or join the ranks of the unemployed, according to the WBI.
The founders of the WBI have published a comprehensive guide on what to do if you are bullied at work. You can read about it here.
There are many reasons why bullying has reached epidemic levels. One factor, say social scientists who study the phenomenon, has to do with the fact that corporate culture breeds aggressiveness. Someone who pushes people around is often viewed as a strong, effective leader, when, in fact, the opposite is true.
Supervisors who encourage the creative ideas of their subordinates, and help others rise the corporate ladder are the best bosses. Bullies, on the other hand, are often threatened when others succeed.
Mean managers, in turn, lead to high staff turnover. This is very expensive , when you factor in severance pay and the costs associated with training a new employee. If the person causing all the trouble is kept on the job, the scenario will likely repeat itself.
The exact price tag of corporate bullying in America is unknown, but it’s a safe bet that it’s running companies billions of dollars a year.
In a perfect world, coworkers would rush to the defense of someone who’s being mistreated or isolated. (One form of bullying involves social exclusion, and this is a preferred method for female bullies.)
But such support rarely happens. That’s because it’s often not apparent an employee is being singled out for punishment. The perpetrator often does this secretively. It’s also highly likely the rest of the staff is deathly afraid of crossing the bully.
On-the-job bullying will continue to happen because, right now, in the United States, there are usually no consequences for mistreating another human being who happens to work with you. Things probably won’t change until legislation passes to make this sort of behavior illegal.
Morguefile Image by Cohdra