The financial costs of workplace abuse to businesses and targets

Workplace abuse leads to decreased productivity, lower morale, increased absenteeism, and turnover (the bad kind — not the kind that results from not needing roles anymore). Imagine burning a big old pile of money. That's the equivalent of keeping an abuser on staff. Let's look at some of the hidden and not-so-hidden costs of keeping an abuser on staff:

Turnover. Examples: announcing the job opening, recruiting fees, interviewing time, and training time.
Lost opportunity. Examples: losing clients and the revenue associated with them and losing potential accounts from the work of competent employees.
Absenteeism. Cost: paid time off (sick leave and vacation)
Presenteeism (being at work but disengaged while there). Cost: lost productivity from that employee and any employee disengagement rubs off on. 
Legal defense. Regardless of there not being laws with teeth on the books protecting targets from workplace abuse, targets can still sue. And...

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Study links workplace abuse to one effect that costs companies billions

In a 2001 study, Researcher Judith Richman linked workplace harassment to drinking behaviors. In a multi-wave panel study at an urban university, targets who had more than two years of abuse had a stronger connection to drinking problems.

"These drinking behaviors reflect an attempt by targets to deal with the psychological stress," say Loraleigh Keashly and Joel H. Neuman in their Employee Rights and Employee Policy Journal article. "Should such drinking continue, job performance and productivity is likely to suffer. For example, some research suggests that sixty billion dollars is lost in annual productivity as a result of alcohol abuse."

The link isn't shocking. What's shocking is the failure of management to address root cause: workplace abuse. It's far easier to blame a target for a drinking problem than a higher level employee for causing the unnecessary stress in the first place. That negligence to address the actual problem is linked to financial loss.

So why aren't...

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Why you're a target of workplace abuse

Don't worry — I'm not about to blame you for being a target of workplace abuse. Just the opposite. It's insecurity that's the root of why abusers abuse. And when those in power operate on jealousy and insecurity, their biggest threats are the ones with targets on their backs.

Here are a few reasons why you're a target:

  • Strengths (think ethics and competence, technical or people skills, for example) threaten abusers.
  • It's all about the abuser's personality, mob mentality the abuser created, and organizational incentives to keep the abuse going.
  • Abusers might perceive a vulnerability in you. Maybe you're not political. But vulnerability is a strength, not weakness. Narcissists are terrified of vulnerability. And while a certain level of political game-playing may be necessary at work, focusing entirely on politics detracts from your greater purpose at work: to work together toward a common vision as a team.

The bottom line

Ego-centered people view work differently than you do...

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Why it's so important to spread the word about the term "workplace abuse"

There's usually a window of time between a targets' initial shock from workplace abuse and their discovery of the term "workplace abuse." Once they discover the term, they can usually start to detach from the problem or externalize a problem they'd been internalizing and begin to heal. Realizing they're not the problem is a pivotal discovery in beginning the road to recovery.

Often finding the term online and reading more about it can be sufficient for healing, but connecting and validating with others face-to-face also helps significantly. Shame can prevent that connection, but targets are not the problem and are not alone.

With more awareness of the issue, the gap between getting abused and learning the concept will be reduced or eliminated, cutting down on stress and improving target well-being.

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Why employees sue (hint: it's not about the money)

Just as doctors without good bedside manners are more likely to get sued, so are employers. In his article "The Top 5 Reasons Why Employees Sue Their Boss," Plaintiff Employment Lawyer Branigan Robertson reveals that mistreatment — not money — is the number one motivator for employees suing their employers. It's mounting evidence that not caring about employees as human beings costs employers.

Here are the top five reasons why employees sue their employers according to Robertson:

1.  They feel they were treated like garbage.

To have dignity, people need to believe they're more than a disposable company resource. "Fired employees don’t call employment lawyers like me because the law was broken. Regular folks have no clue whether the law was broken. They call me because they feel dehumanized," explains Robertson. "This is by far the No. 1 reason people get on Google and search for a lawyer. They are emotionally upset about how their boss treated, demoted,...

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Coping with workplace abuse by challenging thought patterns

Thoughts lead to emotions, and emotions can spiral out of control, leaving you feeling helpless, depressed, and anxious. That's one of the lessons from a 5-week class I took called "Secrets to a Satisfied Life," a course about taking control of your life path and inner peace.

The teacher introduced a "challenging beliefs worksheet" used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a disorder common with veterans and targets of workplace abuse, which can cause shock to a positive, trusting worldview. Though some say human connection and validation are most effective for coping with workplace abuse, these ideas can still be helpful.

The idea with the worksheet is to change a pattern of problematic thinking and reframe it. Do you have evidence? Are you confusing the possible with the likely? Are you jumping to conclusions? Are you oversimplifying a problem? (This coping technique by no means excuses workplace abuse. It is simply a...

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How other countries affirm human dignity

dignity Sep 01, 2020

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KeAZho8TKo]

Michael Moore's 2015 documentary Where to Invade Next isn't about America's war history. It's about how other countries affirm human dignity through policy. It's a look at how policy shapes culture and creates cultures of "we," where people look out for their neighbors, instead of cultures of "me." For example:

  • In Germany, it's illegal for a boss to contact his or her subordinates while they're on vacation.
  • In Slovenia, it's normal for students to protest when administrators threaten their tuition-free higher education.
  • In Norway, prison guards use conversation instead of violence and humiliation. The maximum sentence is 21 years, and Norway has one of the lowest murder rates in the world.

Explains Wikipedia:

The countries and topics in order of appearance:

  • Italy: labor rights and workers' well-being: paid holiday, paid honeymoon, thirteenth salary, two-hour lunch breaks, paid parental leave
  • France: school meals and...
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Workplace abuse is theft

"Someone in your office walks out every day with a laptop under his coat. He fences them down the street and keeps the money. After he's discovered, how long should he keep his job? What if he's a really hard worker? Perhaps you give him a warning, but when he's discovered stealing again a week from now, then what? Bullying costs far more than laptop theft does," says Marketing Guru Seth Godin in his blog post "Bullying is theft."

Bullying is "intentionally using power to cause physical or emotional distress with the purpose of dominating the other person," says Godin. "The bully works to marginalize people. In an organizational setting, the bully chooses not to engage in conversation or discussion or to use legitimate authority or suasion and depends instead on pressure in the moment to demean and disrespect someone else — by undermining not just their ideas but their very presence and legitimacy."

Most bullies aren't sociopaths, immune to correction. They are...

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How to know if you might have PTSD after workplace abuse

Workplace abuse can often lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the Mayo Clinic, "symptoms may start within three months of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships."

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types:

Intrusive memories

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event

Avoidance

Symptoms of avoidance may include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of the traumatic event

Negative changes in thinking and mood

Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may...

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How to find your purpose

joy purpose Aug 27, 2020

"I would rather flirt with failure than never dance with my joy," says author Wes Moore, who appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network talking about his book The Work, about finding your path to purpose. In the interview, Moore says that what you would do regardless of work is what your purpose is and what should be your life's work.

Oprah is joined by decorated veteran, entrepreneur, Rhodes scholar, and New York Times best-selling author Wes Moore for an inspirational conversation about discovering and pursuing your life’s purpose. Wes shares the lessons he learned as a combat officer in Afghanistan, a White House Fellow, and a Wall Street banker during the financial crisis. He opens up about his journey of self-discovery, service, and risk-taking that led him to walk away from financial success to create a more meaningful life for him and his family. Wes and Oprah also discuss his new book, The Work, which calls on readers to find their own paths to purpose.

Watch the...

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