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The Business Case Against Bullies:
Boost Shareholder Value — Stop a Bully Today!
Why should business managers care about workplace
Isn't bullying just a personality conflict that people
can work out amongst themselves? Bullying doesn't
seem to be costing our business anything, what's the
Part of the problem of workplace bullying
is that it flies under the radar of management. The issue of bullying is confused with a simple personality
conflict or legitimate management practices. Everyone
who doesn't get along with others is not a bully and
tough management styles or unpopular management decisions
don't necessarily constitute bullying.
Let's back up and look at a definition of
bullying. Dr. Gary Namie of the Workplace
Bullying Institute > provides this definition:
"Bullying at work is repeated,
health-harming mistreatment that takes one or more
of the following forms: verbal abuse; conduct that
is threatening, intimidating or humiliating; or
sabotage of work such that legitimate business interests
This definition of bullying begins to provide clues
to how workplace bullying can not only be harmful
to targeted individuals but to your business and your
First, bullying is "repeated". Bullying
is an ongoing attack that is not an isolated incident. Targets of workplace bullies are subjected to sustained
"health-harming treatment" that takes it's
toll over time. The phrase "health-harming"
should be setting off alarm bells for managers concerned
about thier employees well being and thier company's
productivity and profitability.
Targets of bullying are threatened and humiliated
daily for months, sometimes years. Bullies
escalate the rhetoric and encourage or intimidate
co-workers to join in the abuse. The target's character
is assassinated as bullies approach supervisors and
managers with malicious complaints about the targeted
employee designed to misinform those to whom the target
might appeal for help. Bullies slander their target
to anyone who will listen; department heads, senior
management, human resources and union representatives
are all informed about how the target is deserving
of nothing but contempt and that they must be gotten
By the time targeted employees complain to managers
about workplace bullying it is often too late. Due
to the stress and impacts on their health targets
can be emotionally drained and showing signs of the
strain. Bullies remain glib and credible and
continue to manipulate managers with uncanny guile. By this stage we are often dealing with a mobbing.
Mobbing is workplace bullying where others have been
recruited by the bully to participate in further attacks.
The target is demoralized, humiliated, isolated and
Protect Your Business and Your Employees
from the Serious Costs of Bullying
There are several
ways that bullies cost your company and collectively the effects of bullying are staggering.
Management, Human Resources and perhaps EAP providers
become involved, but their minds have already been
poisoned by the bully. Rather than listen
to the victim and deal with workplace bullying it
is easier to threaten the victim with termination
unless they quietly tolerate the abuse. The
bullying continues with management now also actively
threatening the victim with disciplinary measures
Eventually the victim is terminated once
their mental, emotional and physical health is destroyed. Their careers and financial futures are ruined. Many
victims of this kind of abuse are never able to rejoin
the workforce. According to a study in Sweden approximately
12 percent of those who committed suicide had been
subjected to this kind of psychological torture at
This brutal process is being played out every day
in workplaces around the world while management and
human resources simply accept the costs as part of
doing business. So what are the costs of bullying?
There are several ways that bullies cost your company
and collectively the effects of bullying are staggering.
Targets will spend a great deal of time trying
to deal with the abuse. Talking to co-workers
and trying to network to gain support all the while
bullies are running around spending time cutting them
down. In addition to the time lost are the projects,
sales and achievement of business goals that were
neglected while the bully and their victim remained
Workplace bullying doesn't happen in isolation. Entire departments are affected. Lost productivity,
low morale, sense of betrayal by management, unwillingness
to put forth an extra effort or contribute creative
ideas all impact your ability to function as a cohesive
team. This pall extends to relationships with your
customers. Employees that are stressed, depressed,
disgruntled, even suicidal are less likely to provide
creative solutions, win proposals or take care of
In addition to these hidden "soft costs"
that are currently being absorbed by businesses are
the obvious costs associated with sick leave, short
and long term disability claims, wrongful dismissal
suits, human rights tribunals and their attendant
Bullies have been
rewarded for their behavior
and have successfully manipulated management
into doing their bidding.
Your company's reputation is also jeopardized both with prospective employees and the public. Companies
with bad bullying track records may find it more difficult
to recruit quality employees who are apprehensive
about joining a company that they feel holds their
well-being in such low regard, which brings us to
still more costs of bullying.
Since workplace bullies generally target
your best and brightest employees (as these
represent the greatest threat to bullies) you will
need to replace them once the bullying and mobbing
cycle has run its course and they have been terminated.
There are the recruiting costs as well as the wasted
investement in training of the now terminated victim
and the ongoing training costs of your newly hired
I say "ongoing training costs" as this
is not the end. Once bullies have successfully gotten
a target terminated they are rarely satisfied and
before long they select a new target and the cycle
of costs to your business begins anew. Why shouldn't
it? Bullies have been rewarded for their behavior
and have successfully manipulated management into
doing their bidding.
Many bullies are even promoted to positions
of greater authority as their aggressive tactics are
mistaken for leadership qualities. This problem
may even be exacerbated by the bully in your organization
already being a supervisor or manager. The majority
of bullying occurs where there is a power differential
between the bully and target.
From this position the bully can do even more damage
and perpetuate the cycle by only promoting like-minded
individuals. They also have access to the tools to
manipulate and undermine subordinates like never before
and the ability to cost your company and expose you
to liability like never before.
Long story short - bullies are just too
expensive to keep around.
But what is the manager whose business is beleaguered
by bullies to do?
How to stop bullying? As a business
leader it is essential that you create a culture that
is inhospitable to bullies. Your employees must be
confident that you will take reports of bullying seriously
and take steps to stop bullying.
Implement a workplace bullying policy and
back it up!
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