Everyone knows about schoolyard bullying and the impact it has on children. But did you know that adults are bullied as well?
Let’s say you’re a dependable employee who is an asset to the workplace. So why is your boss working so hard to make you look incompetent? And why are co-workers complicit in supporting the boss’s actions?
Workplace bullying is a thing, so common a thing that Forbes published an article last year that said over 90% of workers have experienced workplace bullying at one time or another. Victims are usually competent, valuable employees targeted by insecure bosses who seek power and control over the victim. In a workplace culture where such bullying is accepted, one sees the same sorts of cliques and “cool groups” that one saw in high school.
The most common example of workplace bullying is sabotaging an employee’s work or reputation. Some other types of bullying seen in the workplace include treating one employee differently, isolating that employee, and micro-managing or excessively monitoring that employee. Yes, it’s a lot like domestic violence, only in this case, the perpetrator gets paid for his or her abusive behavior.
Workplace Bullying is also, to a great extent, legal, and in some workplaces it’s either sanctioned or condoned. Some bullies target their victims at the behest of their own supervisors, or do so with their supervisor’s blessing. Most victims know or suspect this, and almost half of victims never report the bullying.
For victims, workplace bullying can lead to physical and mental health problems such as depression, insomnia, musculoskeletal problems, and illness. Bullying costs the workplace in loss of productivity, loss of reputation, high staff turnover, grievances, investigations and lawsuits. If your workplace is bleeding talent, odds are you’ve got a bully on your hands.
If you feel you’re the victim of workplace bullying, here are some things you can do:
Keep a detailed diary of incidents, including dates, times, who was present, what was said and/or done.
Keep records of time sheets, schedules, audit reports, and other documents that can contradict a bully’s claims.
Expect the bully to deny your accusations, so keep names of witnesses and have them present if possible when confronting the bully’s behavior.
Find supportive people both in and out of the workplace. Seek out other victims in the workplace and support each other, or lean on family and friends who understand what you’re going through.
It never hurts to consult an attorney. When shopping for one, look for an attorney that specializes in employment law. Your state’s Bar Association website can help you.
Consider looking for employment elsewhere. If the bullying continues, especially after you’ve complained, odds are nothing is going to be done to stop it.
There is a movement afoot to pass laws outlawing workplace bullying. If you’d like more information, you can go to HealthyWorkplaceBill.org and add your voice to help get laws passed.