It’s not only school children who get bullied. People of all ages find bullies, are bullied and sometimes even become bullies. One of the major places where you can get bullied is the workplace. Being bullied at your job by co-workers or by your boss is one of the main causes of distress in our modern society. The question is: how can you tell if you are being bullied at work?
Here are some signs of Workplace Bullying to look out for:
- Verbal abuse and insults to your race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
- Humiliation in front of co-workers or clients.
- Lewd behavior such as “mooning”, sexual jokes, flipping the middle finger, sexting during work hours or sexual harassment.
- Physical abuse or threats of violence.
- Damage to your workspace including your computer, your clothes, your equipment or your stationery. You waste too much time on fixing them and you cannot get tasks done on time
- Cyber bullying by co-workers or your boss. Threats would come through email, text messages, social media or faxes
- Ruining your reputation by posting photoshopped images of you in sexually compromising positions and sending them to other employees or publishing them online.
- Impersonation via sending false letters, emails or other communication vehicles in your name to other co-workers, clients or to your colleagues’ profiles on social media.
Do not ignore workplace bullying. Bullies keep on harassing their victims until they are forced to quit or are fired. Do not bully back. You can get fired for bullying, even if you feel that you were provoked. Instead, report the incident to a responsible superior or to the HR department.
Why Can’t Victims Just Quit Their Jobs?
Adult bullying victims do not get the full media coverage that child bullying victims do. They wouldn’t find too much sympathy with their plight because they are adults. They would be bluntly told by friends and family members to “tough it out” or “just quit”.
Quitting is not an easy option. Many workers have bills to pay and families to support. Ever since the worldwide economic recession of 2008, finding a job is difficult even for the most qualified applicants. According to a study done by the Workplace Bullying Institute in 2013, the main reasons for victims of workplace bullying staying in their jobs include:
- Fear of losing income.
- Feeling of injustice.
- Commitment to the job.
- Pride in previous accomplishments.
- Hoping the bully will have a change of heart.
- Workplace intimidation, “I won’t let the bully rob me of my job”.
No worker should have to put up with bullying. Fortunately, there are many things workers can do to protect themselves from workplace bullying. Targets should document their incidents, confront their bully’s superiors and get additional help from the HR department.
Most workplace bullying victims would rather ignore bullying incidents. However, detailed documentation of each bullying incident gives you more ammunition against your tormentor. Keep a separate physical file or a password-protected computer file to store all of your documents together. Make several copies in case your tormentor discovers the file and erases it.
Each documented incident of adult bullying in the workplace should include:
- Date of the incident (at least your best guess of it).
- Names of any witnesses who saw the incident or who were in the same room when it took place. This could be a co-worker, the office boy or your bully’s secretary.
- Exactly what the bully did and said word-by-word. Do not embellish. Be truthful.
- Your immediate response to your bully. Even if you did nothing, write that down.
In case of cyber bullying in the workplace, each incident should be dated and copied. Copy and paste emails, faxes, text messages, voice mails or even harassing comments that were posted on your blog or your webpage. If you are uncertain if your cyber bully is actually your workplace bully, copy everything suspicious in case they turn out to be the same person.
Learn more about What is Workplace Bullying, Adult Bullying Stories: War in the Workplace , How to Handle Workplace Bullying and our interview with Pamela Garber on Workplace Bullying
- Find out who your bully’s direct superior is and file an official complaint to him/her. This person would have the power to hire and fire employees. In large companies, this would be the human resources (HR) manager. In smaller businesses, this would be the business owner. Bring a hard copy of your bullying documentation file and attach it with your official complaint letter.
- Insist on a private face-to-face meeting with your bully’s superior because your bully might overhear you if you talk on the phone or send an email. Do not tell your bully that you will be meeting with his/her superior – no matter how tempting it is.
- If your bully is in a high position, you need to figure out which organization holds your bully’s credentials. For example, if a lawyer bullies you, you must write to the state’s bar association. You can also file a complaint with your local Better Business Bureau.
Do not expect the situation to be resolved immediately. You will be doubted. The HR manager or whoever you resort to will need time to conduct special investigation into your bully’s behavior.
Bullying in the Workplace Statistics 2014
According to David Maxfield, author and researcher of corporate culture since the 1980s, the problem goes as follows:
- Approximately 96% of employees in many workplaces have been bullied.
- 89% of these bullied at their workplace have been suffering it for over a year.
According to Workplace Bullying Institute in 2014:
- 40% of bullies in most workplaces are bosses or perpetrators who held a higher rank than the victim.
- 69% of workplace bullies were men, with 60% of the targets being females while a minimum of 40% were men.
- A shocking 25% of workplace bullying victims said their employers denied the accusation and investigations on the bullying incidents failed.
3) Get Additional Help from the HR Department
If you feel that your life or the lives of your pets or family members are in immediate danger, contact the HR department. Insist on bringing your lawyer immediately onto the discussion table. Show them a copy of your detailed documentation of the bullying incident. If the HR manager did nothing, go to the police station and file a restraining order.
Workplace bullying is no rite of passage. Facing bullying in the workplace and tolerating it won’t get you anywhere. If you have a workplace bully, report him to your superiors. Remember that laws are created to aid you in your fight against bullying in the workplace. Don’t take workplace bullying as a definite, it is not!