Bullying in the workplace can cost organizations up to $20,000
annually per employee in lost productivity, experts say.
Employers are beginning to realize the cost of workplace bullying, as some experts estimate it can cost organizations up to $20,000 annually per worker targeted by physical or psychological harassment.
If left unchecked, harassment at work can result in;
- loss of general morale,
- erosion of an organization's efficiencies,
- absenteeism, turnover,
- damage to the company's public reputation.
Bullying in a work environment is extremely common, with about one in five people falling victim, according to a U.S. study.
Research also indicates workplace bullying is four times as common as instances of racial or sexual harassment combined.
Despite its prevalence, workplace bullying is poorly understood, according to Vancouver's Integrity Group, which coaches companies on how to deal with the problem.
Contrary to common perception, targets of workplace bullying are not always passive, weak, oddballs or loners. In fact, often the target is a capable and dedicated rising star.
"The bully considers their capability a threat, and determines to cut them down," according to the Canada Safety Council.
Studies show that 72 per cent of workplace bullies are bosses, while the remainder are mostly colleagues, and smaller portion are employees acting out against employers. Bullies are just as likely to be women as men.
- Workplace bullies, like those in the schoolyard, are most likely insecure people with poor social skills and little empathy.
- They turn those shortcomings outward, taking satisfaction in cutting down people around them.
- Regardless of the tactics, bullies are driven by a need to control others.
The Canada Safety Council recommends identifying bullying in the staff code of conduct manual.
"Establish proper systems for investigating, recording and dealing with conflict," the council states. "Investigate complaints quickly, while maintaining discretion and confidentiality and protecting the rights of all individuals involved. It is important to understand fully any incidence of bullying and take the problem seriously at all levels."
It also notes, organizations that manage the problem outperform those which don't by 30 to 40 per cent.