Business TeamDoes bullying happen in your work environment? New research by the Workplace Bullying Institute reveals that it is likely.

72% of Americans are aware that workplace bullying happens. Of those, 27% have experienced workplace bullying personally and 21% have witnessed abusive treatment of players in their work environment.

Workplace bullying is a global phenomena. Ellen Cobb’s excellent 2012 research outlines global incidence, impact, and attempts to address workplace bullying in countries around the world.

This infographic outlines the “lowlights” of the 2014 US Workplace Bullying Survey.

A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry underscores the long-term costs of childhood bullying. The harmful effects can extend for decades after the initial bullying! The study found that effects include lower levels of education, greater physical and mental health problems, and poor social functioning throughout victims’ lives.

Bullying – in or out of the workplace – erodes trust, erodes confidence, reduces performance, and creates health problems.

How do employers respond to workplace bullying? The WBI survey found that 25% of US employers believe workplace bullying doesn’t happen in their companies. They do not investigate complaints.

16% of US employers discount the impact of workplace bullying; they know about it but believe it’s not a big deal. 15% rationalize it – these US employers believe that workplace bullying is a routine way of doing business (!).

11% of US employers defend workplace bullying, particularly when the perpetrators are executives and managers. 5% of US employers encourage it, believing it is necessary to be competitive today.

Only 12% of US employers act to eliminate workplace bullying. Another 6% condemn it through zero-tolerance policies and procedures.

What can you do? First, learn what resources are available to you. The Workplace Bullying Institute provides tools and services for individuals and employers.

Second, build a foundation of trust and respect in your work team. You don’t have to fix your whole division or company – just aim at improving your work team’s environment.

Most teams and companies focus exclusively on getting production done – not on the quality of the work environment. You can change that dynamic by crafting “great citizenship” guidelines for all team members.

Outline the values, behaviors, and norms that will enable work team dignity and respect. Make your values measurable (this post can help you). Invite team members to help refine those behaviors. Then publish them. Ask every team member to model them, praise them when others model them, and coach others when they see misaligned behavior.

These steps can create workplace inspiration – and eliminate bullying within your team, one step at a time.

What do you think? Does your employer act to eliminate bullying or even condemn it, or not so much? How does your work team address abusive conduct today? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway: the Great Boss Assessment and the Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

My new book from Wiley, The Culture Engine, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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