When an incident of assault, harassment, intimidation, or bullying occurs in a federal workplace, it is usually caused by an employee rather than a customer, criminal, or someone who has a personal relationship with the victim. Continue reading →
When I was still being bullied at work I did speak up to management and the response was so frustrating that it wasn’t hard to conjure up fantasies of purposely making mistakes or other similar actions. My older sister, who became my best mentor, counseled me repeatedly not to give in to these desires. Instead she argued for what she calls the “Girl Scout Approach” [GSA]. Always there ready to slog through any job issue no matter how repetitive, unnecessary, demeaning or delusional. Personally I draw the line at giving anyone a cookie when they are systematically trying to destroy me. While this tactic did not prevent the devastating impact on my health or finances, I did survive with my resume intact and actually won in the end. In no small part because I was able to remain a positive team player able to attract and build a support system of co-workers. Wayne Hochwarter, a Professor at Florida State University, conducted research that found that employees who remain silent about abuse were “three times more likely to proactively fix problems, including perceived abuse, than those who reported mistreatment.” That’s a startling finding:
Thirty percent of those who reported abuse slowed down or purposely made errors, compared with 6 percent of those not reporting abuse.
Twenty-seven percent of those who reported abuse purposely hid from the boss, compared with 4 percent of those not reporting abuse.
Thirty-three percent of those who reported abuse confessed to not putting in maximum effort, compared with 9 percent of those not reporting abuse.
Twenty-nine percent of those who reported abuse took sick time off even when not ill, compared with 5 percent of those not reporting abuse.
Twenty-five percent of those who reported abuse took more or longer breaks, compared with 7 percent of those not reporting abuse.
Changing Our Work Environments
So, if you’ve reported to HR or your superiors that your boss is a bully and the investigation is going nowhere – if it’s happening at all – and you find yourself in your work cubicle plotting passive/aggressive revenge you definitely aren’t alone. But, it’s just as easy to imagine that acting out these fantasies can wreak havoc on careers and resumes. This month Channel 10 in Tampa reported that while findings indicate that our workplaces have become more toxic “Professor Hochwarter does see hope for the employee-boss relationship.”
An improving economy could shift expectations for employees from daily benchmarks to yearly output, and that, he says, could help make horrible bosses a little more human.”
Hochwarter is hopeful that creating a work environment that fosters “civility” and “a commitment to active communication, may cure many of these problems.” It would be interesting to see how the types of behavior above are reflected in the responses and actions of HR, Arbitration, Mediation, and Ombudsman services in their attempts to resolve these types of issues.
Australia is seeing a huge spike in workplace bullying claims but the majority fall short of qualifying.
Ian Forsyth of WorkSafe says this is due to “greater awareness about bullying and, in particular, to the case of 19-year-old waitress Brodie Panlock, who committed suicide in 2006 after being relentlessly bullied by four colleagues at a Hawthorn cafe.” The positive outcome is that legislation was enacted as a result of media pressure. The downside is that despite all of the news coverage important information about workplace bullying was not absorbed by the public.
”I think what we are seeing is that the term bullying is being used quite loosely in the community now in many instances to describe something that has ‘gone against me’ or ‘that I haven’t liked’ or something that ‘I haven’t wanted to do’,” says Mr Forsyth.
”As a result, we are seeing a mismatch between what is being labelled bullying and what would really constitute bullying under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
”We’re certainly not saying that these people aren’t suffering from some form of ill treatment or some form of injustice or that they’re not genuinely feeling that they’ve been disadvantaged or put under pressure. But in the vast majority of incidents these types of behaviours which they might describe as bullying are not going to meet the criteria for us to investigate or prosecute.” [Sydney Morning Herald read more..]
The article goes on to say that many of the claims already fall under discrimination and other legislation currently in place. Sadly the high pressure media attention here in the U.S. may create a similar situation. Countless articles about workplace bullying here in the U.S. all too often relate unscientific survey numbers and tell victims’ horrific stories without the acknowledgment that many can already addressed under discrimination or physical harassment legislation already in place. Or, that it may be possible to file a lawsuit as an IIED claim. This is great for lobbyists wishing to pass a bill but questionable when it comes to what is ethically best for everyone who will be impacted. And, that would all of us, including advocates like myself, who work or own businesses.
It’s time for each of us to speak up and add our own concerns to the dialog. Journalists reporting on pending legislation in the U.S. all too often rely on a single solution with little or no critique. The problem with that type of approach is that it subverts the democratic process and serves narrowly focused interests as opposed to addressing all of our concerns. Crafting strong laws is something that legislators are charged to do and remains each of our right as citizens. Why hand over concessions in the very first draft of a bill?
Personally, I am interested in collaborating with current advocates across America (many of whom I know and have developed relationships with) so as to strengthen pending legislation [see text of sample bill ] not ditch it — since that is the only way I personally feel comfortable supporting it. Time will tell if that is something they are open to or not but in the meantime please share your thoughts, arguments and ideas here or email them to OurBullyPulpit@gmail.com
Yesterday I put out a request for input into the expansion and development for our website and what we should focus on and include. A member of the nursing profession asked that we discuss nurses with seniority who bully younger nurses. A few minutes later I came upon this article, DO NURSES STILL “EAT THEIR YOUNG, ” written by Jennifer Olin, BSN, RN. She argues that it’s no longer just newbies that are impacted and has gone so far as to encompass the entire hospital staff.
I began working on a documentary about workplace bullying in 2007. At that time it was next to impossible to “pitch” my project because no one had a clue what I was talking about. Since then things have definitely changed. A simple google search of “workplace bullying” will bring up tons of hits. Add to that “psychological harassment” “toxic workplace” “hostile workplace” and it’s obvious that we’ve finally made it to water cooler conversations. The downside is that most of the coverage is shallow and simplistic and doesn’t really dig deeply into what we need to understand to really combat this issue proactively in our offices. I’m currently developing a new website that will go beyond my current work at NoJobIsWorthThis.com Feel free to leave a message here, on our Facebook group site, or shoot me an email if you have suggestions for what you’d like to see. Lots more discussion about this to come… [firstname.lastname@example.org]