• Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

Workplace Bullying: What You Need to Know

Even as a psychologist who has heard it all in 20 years practicing, there are times when I hear things that really, really bother me. If you live in the Dallas area you may have heard the tragic story of 9 year old Montana Lance who committed suicide at his elementary school in January as a result of bullying. Last week I was invited to the FOX 4 TV Studios to be the online chat expert for viewers regarding this incident. (Click here to watch). Viewers were able to chat live with me online after watching a segment with Montana's parents who are taking a stand to raise awareness and promote Anti-Bullying day.

When we hear of bullying we tend to think of children at school. But it's no less common in the workplace and a topic worthy of much more discussion. A recent study reported 1 in 6 U.S. employees have experienced workplace bullying. Understand the signs and symptoms of workplace bullying to keep your organization in the Smart Zone. Workplace bullying is defined as repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group) directed towards an employee (or group of employees) which is intended to intimidate and create a risk to the health and safety of the employee(s). Factors that increase the risk of bullying are:

  • Significant organizational change

  • Worker characteristics such as generational/life stage differences

  • Staff shortages

  • Role ambiguity

  • High rate of work intensity

I bet several of these risk factors sound familiar - especially in today's work environment. Bullies do not run good organizations. Workplace bullying leads to high staff turnover and sick leave and low morale and productivity. A bullied environment keeps employees from doing their best work and breaks down trust within the organization. Just for fun, watch this clip in The Devil Wears Prada to see a bully in action.

Here are 2 informative articles from BNET regarding workplace bullying:

Nipping Workplace Bullying in the Bud

Understanding the Characteristics of Workplace Bullying