Workplace bullying, by definition, happens at work. It interferes with the target’s confidence that her or his livelihood is assured. Broad societal economic crises threaten millions of workers at the same time and impersonally. Bullying is a laser-focused, personalized economic crisis affecting the target and her or his family. When bullies have control over the targets’ livelihood (as in 72% of situations), they have tremendous leverage to cause financial pain. Single parent workers are the most vulnerable.
Keeping a bully on staff is the equivalent of burning a big pile of money in the back of your building. But how much does it cost, exactly? The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) explains the hidden and not-so-hidden costs of allowing bullying in the workplace.
A simple formula for calculating costs
Turnover: Combined salaries of departed workers x 1.5
Opportunity lost: Lost revenue
Absenteeism: Number of missed hours x hourly rate
Presenteeism: Total salaries of checked out workers/2
Legal defense: Varies
Workers comp: Varies
For an employee paid $50,000 annually, the grand total could look like:
Opportunity lost: $30,000
Legal defense: $30,000
Workers comp: $2,000
An employer could pay a productive employee for three years instead of allowing the bullying to happen. Is pretending the bullying isn’t happening really the easy way out?
How to calculate the effect on your bottom line
Step 1: Determine who was targeted and for how long. Record the time period and all of the people involved with the bullying (both direct targets and those who witnessed the bullying).
Step 2: Calculate all costs involved:
Step 3: If you’re the employer, hold the bully accountable. Talk to the bully and begin the warning process with the ultimate goal of termination if the behavior does not change.
If you’re the target, take the total estimate with cost breakdown to the highest-ranking employee you can find who does not side with the bully, who cares about the bottom line, and is honest. Ask that person for a 15 minute meeting to share ways to significantly cut costs. Present your value to the company. Attribute the losses to the bully. Ask that they be punished and that you be put in a safe position with no loss of pay or status. If you do not get your needs met, leave. “You were too good of an employee to have given your talent for so long only to be dealt with as you have been. Leave with your head held high. Your departure is their loss,” says the WBI website.
Controlling bullies can block transfers to a safe job, can make targets so miserable that they quit (constructive discharge), or impair target health to the extent they have to quit to stop the stress from campaign of interpersonal destruction. In the U.S., losing work means losing health insurance. No job. Get sicker. Lose the ability to seek medical help.
(from the Workplace Bullying Institute)
Take Your Dignity Back
If you feel like you’re stuck in a big rut that’s destroying your life, learn how to reverse the damage.
Right now, you wish you could just tell your bully at work to knock it off, report the problem to management, and show the bully how childish he or she’s behaving. At best, the bully’s sidetracking the goals of the organization. At worst, the bully’s threatening or maybe even destroying your life by abusing you: your health, your family, your career, your finances, and your happiness.
You know it’s not a personality conflict. You’re not too sensitive. You’re not thin-skinned. It’s downright abuse. You expected your work environment to support you to do the work you were hired to do. You expected to be treated with dignity and respect.
The organization doesn’t care. They think it’s in their best interest to ignore the problem — meaning you — and make you go away. When you speak up, you’re the problem. You’re treasonous. If you fight them, they’ll fight harder.
Meanwhile, you’re stressed out and angry, and it gets worse the longer the bullying goes on, making you an easier target for the bully. Your physical and mental health are depleted. You consider or take stress leave.
Find out what workplace bullying is, why it happens, what's worked — and what hasn't worked — for hundreds of other workplace bullying targets, and how to start the path to healing in this comprehensive online course drawing from the greatest minds in workplace bullying.
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