Tagged: workplace bullying targets

The number of people who have no support system from workplace bullying

Frightened man under  the desk in the office

Workplace bullying targets revealed their greatest supporters are family members (45 percent) in a 2011 Workplace Bullying Institute poll. But what’s tragic is the number that came next: 30 percent of respondents said they had NO ONE to support them through their workplace bullying experience. Not a coworker. Not a friend outside work. Not a therapist. Not a spiritual leader. No one.

WBI asserts that this category could be “a healthy reliance, an introspective journey, one characterized by strength and deliberate purpose. But this counters the vast anecdotal record of targets who call WBI for help and who overestimate their power to rectify their employer-generated problem…. [Many] targets are involuntarily left alone to deal with the bullying situation that resulted from the combination of efforts by several do-nothing, intervention-averse people. They may have asked for help and been denied. Hence, they were isolated.”

If roughly 1 in 3 people has been bullied at work, and of those people, about 1 in 3 have no support system in their workplace bullying experience, that means that approximately 1 in 9 people are suffering or have suffered in silence from workplace bullying. That’s nearly 750,000 in Massachusetts alone and more than the population of Boston who due to workplace bullying also have a greater risk for homelessness and suicide. And in Massachusetts, workplace bullying is perfectly legal.

That’s why it’s vital to spread the word about what workplace bullying is and why it needs to stop. No one needs to suffer in isolation.

There’s one group most likely to get bullied at work

Sad businesswoman

If we were to create a workplace bullying target persona, she would be a 42-year old, college-educated, full-time, non-supervisory, non-union worker in healthcare, education, or the government, according to a 2013 Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) poll.

Workplace bullying targets are most often motivated to help others. “They are prosocial, the do gooders. People entering those fields want to heal, help, teach, develop impressionable minds, and see the good in others. While focused on the work, with their backs figuratively turned to the politics and abusers in the workplace, they bring a vulnerability to attack. And like all targets, they only seek to be left alone to do the work they are paid to accomplish,” says WBI. And this mindset generally falls along gender and industry lines.

A WBI poll one year later verifies these claims. Bullied targets and witnesses said that those targeted with abusive mistreatment were often kind, giving, altruistic, agreeable, and cooperative. Though they also considered targets not likely to defend themselves and vulnerable (a strength often seen as a weakness in our patriarchal culture), it’s important to note targets are cooperators, not competitors. And collaborative work environments are proven to be not just healthier for employees but also for organizations’ bottom lines.

Nursing and teaching: rampant with bullying
What’s more dangerous is that in the nursing and teaching professions, bullying has become “so routine that it’s normalized and no longer shocks the profession,” says WBI, despite the attention given to student bullying. “Adults are physically modeling the same acts they are verbally deploring. Actions speak louder than words. A teacher humiliated in front of students is robbed of her or his moral authority to manage the classroom effectively. And parents learn which teachers they can safely attack and demoralize by following the lead of administrators.”

Government: the third-ranked industry
Poorly trained supervisors are the major problem in this sector. “Managers lacking the interpersonal skills of listening, coaching, effectively training, and caring for workers tend to supervise aggressively to mask their incompetence. Governments, with their starved budgets, first cut training to save. Unfortunately, the consequence is to inflict health-harming mistreatment on the public sector workforce,” says WBI.

Workplace bullying targets don’t always fit this mold
Workplace bullying targets aren’t only educated, non-political, altruistic women in their 40s. Respondents came from various walks of life: men, white collar workers, blue collar workers, non-educated, supervisors, and managers. The only common trait among targets is that their competence poses a threat to insecure perpetrators.

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