Workplace bullies rarely face consequences for their bullying behaviors. More often than not, targets get dismissed, discounted, or flat-out ignored, which of course sides with the bully. Top-level executives most often support higher level managers over non-supervisory workers, leaving workplace bullying targets completely unprotected.
“Protective support prevents punishment for bullies and blocks accountability. Of course over time, protecting bullies sustains a workplace culture that is bullying-prone and unsafe for prospective targets. Protection ensures that bullying continues with impunity,” says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) in their 2013 poll.
The percentage of workplace bullying cases involving bully protection
In nearly 94 percent of workplace bullying cases, polled targets and witnesses said the bully had protection against punishment: either a higher-ranking manager, an executive or owner, HR, or a supervisor.
WBI calls the higher...
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:
The data shows that:
“Bullying is demeaning, ostracizing, disempowering, cruel, threatening, humiliating, untruthful, and unrelated to work itself,” says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). In a 2014 poll, WBI asked respondents what the most offensive aspects of the bullying experience are. They are, in order of popularity:
Being accused of incompetence when I possessed more technical skills than my accuser
“[Targets] posed a threat for the thin-skinned perpetrators who appear less capable by comparison,” says WBI. “The most offensive act was the bully’s lie that the target was incompetent. The claim is dissonant with everything the target has known about her- or himself for an entire work career. It would be laughable were it not for the power the perpetrator yields to act in accordance with the lie. Soon after leveling the false charges (and they are false by objective criteria), perpetrators rely on human resources support to start a performance...
“If you’re prone to magical thinking, you might believe all it takes to combat bullying (mistreatment by the employer or its agent, managers) is the collective effort by concerned coworkers who witness the events. Yes, in your dreams you see the heroic target in the boss’s threshold backed by throngs of agitated and supportive peers,” says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). “In reality, chances are better that only a breeze will be behind our hero at the door when left to fight alone.” Coworkers don’t intervene, according to the 2008 WBI Coworker Study. They fear they’ll be the next target, be the only supporter, ruin the fight, or be pushed away by the target.
Without the masses of disgusted coworkers behind a target, who’s left to help balance the power with employers? Unions. In a 2011 poll, the WBI asked workplace bullying targets what role, if any, they saw for unions in addressing workplace bullying.
Don’t use mediation or other alternative dispute resolution practices for bullying resolution, says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). Here’s why:
“Workplace bullying is a form of violence, non-physical and sub-lethal, but interpersonal violence nevertheless. Violent relationships cannot be mediated. Mediation requires that both parties are rational and capable of gaining an empathic understanding of the needs and intellectual interests of the other party. In bullying, only one party is rational. The other’s interest is tainted by her or his need to dominate the other party. There is no equal footing at the start. One does not mediate domestic violence. There is no halfway in the gulf between parties when one is under assault by the other.”
Workplace bullying targets shared the outcomes of employer-required mediation and/or arbitration to address their workplace bullying situations back in 2011:
Most research from the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) comes from targets. Through targets’ lenses, we’ve seen:
That picture of American employers is beyond unflattering.
What leaders said might be even more startling:
What is your opinion of workplace bullying?
Around 68 percent of leaders called workplace bullying “a serious problem.” Meanwhile, 76 percent of targets said their employers regarded...
“As our legal education progressed, and we began to lobby lawmakers to introduce our anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, we learned that the law did not require the discovery of motive if the action happens. That is, the wrongdoing — bullying acts — was evidence of intent. No one has to divine the hidden goals of perpetrators. If they committed the act, they meant to,” says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI).
Regardless, some bloggers and reporters like to suggest that most bullying is unintentional. So WBI polled workplace bullying targets in 2014 to find out the intentions of their bullies.
In 91% of cases, respondents said “the bullying was the result of the perpetrators’ deliberate personal decision to act. That is, individuals most directly affected by bullying, targets and witnesses, seem to believe the actions were deliberate and malicious. Malice involves the intent to inflict pain on others,” explains...
Senior executives don’t think workplace bullying is a serious problem according to 76 percent of polled workplace bullying targets, says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) in a 2013 poll. “The basis for doubt is that targets typically attempted (unsuccessfully, according to other WBI surveys) to have senior management act as if it were serious,” explains WBI.
In a poll of business leaders, WBI found the opposite perception to be true: 68 percent of polled business leaders considered workplace bullying a serious problem.
“Executives chose what they consider ‘socially desirable’ opinions,” explains WBI. “To report otherwise would make them appear unsympathetic.” In other words, when we reward image rather than actual behavior, we find people at the top who claim to support a positive image, but their actions don’t match the ideals they want to be viewed as holding. Sounds all...
Bullying causes pain. Workplace bullying targets look to both positive and negative vices to offset the pain. In a 2013 poll, the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) found that targets resort to, in order of popularity:
WBI points out that rarely are coping mechanisms conscious at first. If they were, we’d only be engaging in exercise, engaging with family and friends, learning something new, and turning to faith. Stress limits...
Workplace bullying is an injustice. When a competent target poses a threat to a deeply insecure aggressor, “the disconnect between deservedness and the deep misery experienced is at the heart of the injustice. Years after targets are out of harm’s way, they still feel lingering pangs of unfairness, inequity, injustice,” says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). Without a law making workplace bullying illegal, targets are left with finding justice in other ways.
In a 2012 poll, WBI found that 54 percent of targets never found a sense of justice. However, 46 percent of respondents said they found at least some sense of justice by (in order of popularity):
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