22 April 2008

Signs You’re Being Bullied At Work - Stress and Trouble

Chances are if you work with others, you’ll be bullied at some point in your career.

In the U.S., where the practice is being studied, an estimated 37% of workers, or about 54 million people, have been bullied at the office, or repeatedly mistreated in a health-harming way, according to a 2007 Zogby International survey. The percentage balloons to 49% of workers, 71.5 million people, when witnesses are included.

The problem is, however, unless you’re at the receiving end of severe abuse, you’re unlikely to realize it.

Experts say there’s a general lack of awareness about the bullying and the types of behaviors the term encompasses. This often prevents people from realizing that a boss or co-worker is a bully. There’s also an element of personal shame involved.

“They’re sinking into a really bad state emotionally, finding it harder to go to work and it might even affect their job performance,” says David Yamada, a professor at Suffolk University Law School and president of the New Workplace Institute, a nonprofit that promotes healthy, productive and socially responsible workplaces. “Oftentimes people don’t put the pieces together until it’s too late.”

While hard to quantify, workplace bullying is clearly costly for employees as well as employers.

About 45% of individuals targeted by bullies at work suffer stress-related health problems, according to the Zogby survey. That could include cardiovascular problems, an impaired immune system, debilitating anxiety and even post-traumatic stress disorder, says Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute and president of Work Doctor, a consulting firm that specializes in correcting and preventing workplace bullying.

Companies pay in employee turnover, employee absenteeism and, to a small extent, workers’ compensation claims. Bullies can tarnish an organization’s reputation and ability to recruit, since word gets around when employees are miserable and leaving in droves.

New research by University of Manitoba’s M. Sandy Hershcovis and Julian Barling, of Queen’s University in Ontario, also shows that workplace bullying is hurting employees more than sexual harassment–causing more job stress, less job commitment and higher levels of anxiety.

Yamada and the Workplace Bullying Institute have been promoting state legislation that asks employers to address the issue and give victims legal recourse, which they currently only have if the bullying is related to a protected status, such as race. But critics counter that such legislation creates a serious liability risk for companies.

source: Kasengergy

Signs Of Trouble

Regardless of the legislation or your company’s individual policy, workers have to recognize the problem before anything is likely to change. If you’re physically ill the night before the start of every workweek, take a minute to think about whether it’s because you’re being bullied.

While more overt signs might include a boss who has a habit of yelling at you in front of your co-workers or making belittling or critical comments about your work during meetings, some behavior is more insidious. Ever get excluded from a group lunch or team meeting? That might qualify as bullying, too.

If you’re looking for advice, scholars with Arizona State University’s Project for Wellness and Work-Life, a group that examines the intersections of work, domestic life and wellness, have some suggestions. In their 2007 report entitled “How to Bust the Office Bully,” they recommend that targets figure out a rational way to tell their stories to colleagues, bosses or human resources while managing their emotions. Emphasizing your competence and showing consideration for others’ perspectives is also crucial, the report says.

But if you feel like your company supports this kind of negative behavior, your best option just might be to quit.

“It’s not worth it,” Hershcovis says, “to put your health at risk.”

10 April 2008

5 tips to combat adult bullying

Ideas of how they approach Bullying in Canada.......

1. Consider the situation. Kenneth Westhues, a sociology professor at the University of Waterloo, Ont., says it is easier to deal with a bully outside the workplace, where your livelihood isn’t threatened. Regardless of where you are bullied, though, you need to assess your resources in comparison to the bully’s and then decide how to proceed. If it’s at work, transferring to a new department may be the simplest solution.

2. Take notes. Karl Aquino, a management professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, suggests recording specific bullying instances. These notes can be useful if you need to bring the bullying to someone else’s attention. Writing down your experiences may have a positive effect on how you interpret and understand the situation.

3. Confront the bully. In some situations, simply asserting yourself could end the bullying behaviour. Confront an abusive boss, for example, and speak to her calmly, outlining your concerns and providing examples of her behaviour.

4. Provide consequences. If, after confronting the person, there is no response, Frema Engel, author of Taming the Beast: Getting Violence Out of the Workplace (Ashwell, 2004), suggests spelling out consequences, such as threatening to expose her behaviour. Keep in mind that it’s crucial to follow through, so be ready to act.

5. Report the behaviour.
If the bullying continues, report it to a trusted superior. If your superior is the problem, go to human resources. If the harassment occurs outside of the workplace, such as at a sports club, speak to the administration.

Legal avenues
Richard Hammond, a lawyer and counsel to Anonymousemployee.com, a Canadian Internet service, outlines your legal options when dealing with a workplace bully.

• A Supreme Court of Canada ruling states employers have a duty to treat employees fairly and reasonably. This expectation is enforced in many ways. In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act invites you to make a complaint to the Employment Standards Board; board personnel meet with you and your employer to resolve the situation.

• If the bullying takes place within a union environment, you are usually required to settle it through grievance arbitration as a first step.

• If the bullying takes the shape of any type of discrimination or develops into violent or sexual harassment, a lawsuit may be a better remedy, says Hammond, because it is unlikely you will want to return to that workplace.

• Before starting a lawsuit, consider informal mediation or submitting a formal, in-house complaint. “Typically, you don’t start a lawsuit until everything else has broken down and you’re no longer able to negotiate.”

Not ready to go public?
Anonymousemployee.com is a Canadian Internet service that allows employees to speak with supervisors about an issue without it being attributed to them.

Much like online dating services, you send your employer an anonymous message about the problem you’re having and your employer can respond within the secure channel. Christopher Knott, president of the Toronto-based company, says that it’s a good way to test the waters.

Source : www.canadianliving.com by Sara Ditta

02 April 2008

Are YOU a Bully ?

Following is from Inc.com

Robert Sutton is author of the new book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't in which he examines everything you could possibly want to know about "assholes" in the workplace -- from what makes people act like bullies to techniques for dealing with them. Here's a look at six of the most common actions committed by so-called assholes. How do you measure up?

1. You might be an office bully if your ability to provide constructive criticism to your employees or coworkers comes out in the form of an insult. Instead of starting a productive conversation about the problem, you jump right in with, "You call this your best work? My dog can do a better job than this." What's worse, you don't even consider that you words could be hurting the other person's feelings.

2. Since you started at your job, your goal has been to climb the corporate ladder as fast as possible, no matter how many people you knock down on your way there. When you see people who have higher positions, you make it a point to demean their status. You might be an office bully if the only way you can boost yourself up is by forcing others down.

3. Whenever anyone other than yourself starts talking, you feel the urge to add your two cents. After all, what you have to say is much more intelligent and thought-out -- according to you. You might be an office bully if, instead of waiting for other people to finish their sentences, you cut them off and take over the rest of the conversation, spouting your ever-more important point.

4. You don't believe in smiling at people in the hallways, or at least you've never tried it. Instead, when you see a colleague walking toward you, your mind immediately skips to the last annoying thing he did or how ugly you think his tie is. You might be an office bully if your thoughts come out in the form of a glare, a wince, or worse yet, a deranged smile.

5. So, you think you're pretty funny and you want other people to know it. Problem is, you're no longer funny "ha-ha" -- you're funny "uh-oh." As soon as your playful banter during the meeting stops getting laughs and starts making people turn red, you've probably gone too far. You might be an office bully if your sarcastic personality becomes an all-out teasing fest.

6. Just because you don't verbalize your nastiness, doesn't mean you aren't communicating it in other ways, like e-mail. Written threats and intimidations can be just as harmful to coworkers and may spawn an office-wide e-mail war. You might be an office bully if you use e-mail messages to flame your coworkers or employees, and end up clogging their inboxes with your ridiculing remarks.