The truth on why workplace bullying happens

Dispute between boss and employee

A 2012 Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) poll reveals these top ten reasons as to why bullying in the workplace happens, according to targets and witnesses:

  1. Bullies are not punished and thrive.
  2. Laws to stop it are either absent or too weak to be useful.
  3. No one in the organization has the will to stop it.
  4. Coworkers stand idly by and fail to stop it.
  5. The workplace culture rewards cutthroat behaviors.
  6. A few hyper-aggressive individuals have psychological and social problems.
  7. Executives/owners/senior managers are the bullies.
  8. Bullying is part of the larger society and culture.
  9. Bullies follow orders from the top.
  10. No one in the organization has the power to stop it.

The top reasons dissected

  • The top of the top reasons are employer-focused. Employers set the culture for the work environment top-down. Without consequences for bullies and the will to stop bullying, bullies thrive. And without strong laws, employers won’t bother to hold bullies accountable because they simply don’t have to.
  • Bystanders are next on lacking accountability. We wouldn’t need laws if bystanders didn’t stand idly by and do nothing. Coworkers fear for their own survival. Unfortunately, that fear is at the expense of targets’ suffering.
  • Too many workplaces, and culture in general, reward aggressive behavior. Promotion and even inaction rewards aggressive behavior. When bullies put themselves in toxic work cultures, they thrive.
  • Bullies’ flawed personalities matte. Bullies are often bordering on psychopath. They’re often narcissists who lack empathy and who willfully exploit and harm others when the opportunity arises.

It’s important to note that not a single top ten reason points to a workplace bullying target as the reason for the abusive mistreatment. Though we live in a culture that likes to blame the victim rather than hold perpetrators accountable, workplace bullying targets know they’re not the problem.

Hope for the future
Another 2012 WBI poll showed hope for our workplaces. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said that workplace bullying will stop when laws make employers end it or when employers see how expensive or immoral preventable bullying is.


  1. Morgan Jameson

    Much has been written about top-down bullying in workplaces but there are many occasions where the victim of bullying is a supervisor or middle management worker who, all too often, has no access to a procedure or process to get help. Often subordinates will work together to “hunt and take down” a supervisor and accomplish the goal before the victim is even aware that they are being targeted. Libel and slander laws in Canada are virtually unenforceable unless the victim is extremely wealthy. Subordinates often are motivated by jealousy and aspirations of promotions. Frequently they are quite successful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s