What stops your workplace bullying experience

Young businesswoman putting adhesive notes on glass wall in office

What stops bullying? The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) conducted a 2012 poll to figure out what tactics and strategies have worked to stop workplace bullying. Those who’ve experienced it or witnessed it found useful, in order of effectiveness:

  • Target filed a lawsuit, 16.4% effective
  • Target filed a complaint with an external state agency human rights commission, or federal EEOC, 11.9% effective
  • Target tried to find an attorney to file a lawsuit, 11.2% effective
  • If union present, asked union to intervene & stop it, 8.84% effective
  • Target filed a formal complaint with HR alleging a policy violation, 4.66% effective
  • Target told senior management/owner expecting support, 3.69% effective
  • Target directly confronted the perpetrator, 3.57% effective
  • Target asked perpetrator’s boss to intervene & stop it 3.26% effective
  • Target seemed to not do anything, 3.25% effective

The takeaways
The data shows that:

  • Confronting, imploring the bully’s boss, filing an HR complaint, and telling senior management were as ineffective as doing nothing.
  • When discrimination is part of the bullying, standing up to bullying outside of the workplace is more effective than if discrimination is not involved.
  • Union intervention is about twice as effective as HR intervention.
  • Regardless of what strategy a target tries while staying at his or her job, his or her chances of success are around 3-4 percent.

What actually stops bullying
When on-the-job strategies didn’t work (54 percent of the cases), these tactics stopped the bullying (46 percent of these cases):

  • Quitting, both voluntary action and constructive discharge (being forced out) (41% of women and 36% of men)
  • Termination (25% of women and 13% of men)
  • Job transfer (14% of women and 8% of men)

So the target is the one put out the majority of the time simply because his or her boss or coworker is threatened by his or her competence. Hardly reasonable.


  1. John Tapscott

    I questioned a highly placed HR manager at a staff meeting about workplace bullying, only to be told it was normal management procedure. It wasn’t when I began working for the same organisation 40 years before. The organisation changed as a result of a change in the government that ran the organisation.

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