By: Debra Kabalkin on April 23rd, 2014

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Cost of Bullying in the Workplace

Best Practices | Employee Relations

Workplace bullying is a problem that has gotten a great deal of attention lately because of the NFL case involving a Miami Dolphins player who walked away from the team due to alleged harassment from his peers, and co-workers in October 2013.  An independent investigation was recently completed and released verifying the player’s claims that he was in fact bullied by his teammates.

According to the WBI (Workplace Bullying Institute) bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes the following forms:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
  • Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done

Some startling statistics are that 27% of Americans feel they have suffered abusive conduct at work and that 72% are aware that bullying is occurring and do nothing about it. 1

So how can you spot a bully at the office? By identifying the signs, such as:

  • Deliberately sabotaging or impeding work performance
  • Swearing in public or private
  • Publicly humiliating a co-worker
  • Persistently criticizing an employee’s performance or appearance
  • Talking behind the backs of co-workers
  • Spreading rumors and gossip.

Cost of Bullying to your company

The actual dollar cost of bullying can’t be quantified however the hidden costs are real. Some of the costs can be attributed to:

  • Lost productivity – when an employee is unhappy their work productivity tends to suffer.
  • Lost Time – if an employee is under a lot of stress they may call in sick to avoid going to work.
  • Employee Turnover – If an employee is miserable at their job they may feel they have no choice but to quit; which can also lead to allegations of constructive discharge.
  • The Employee May Tarnish the Company’s Reputation - With social media outlets like GlassDoor for example, employees can post negative things about a company and/or its employees; this can cause potential vendors or prospective recruits from looking at your company.

Currently there are 26 states which have bills called “Healthy Workplace Bills” to prevent bullying in the Workplace” but unfortunately there are no Federal or State laws on the books as long as it is not considered harassment.

1. February 25th, 2014  -  2014 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey results