What stops workplace bullying

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.

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