The term “workplace bullying” is one that is pretty new to our society, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been happening for many years in the workplace. It is just that recently companies and legislators are starting to realize that this is a real serious problem in the workplace that affects not only the workplace, but employees physical and mental well-being. The Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators.” The mistreatment could consist of:
When you are a victim of workplace bullying, it is often very difficult to do your job efficiently because the perpetrator is likely doing everything in their power to break you down. It is very hard to go to a job everyday knowing that you have to face the same treatment by the perpetrator(s) day in and day out. After long term exposure to workplace bullying, it can begin to affect you physically causing such problems as high blood pressure, strokes, Irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, and skin disorders. You also could be affected mentally by this abuse in the form of depression, anxiety, insomnia, low self-esteem, and post- traumatic stress disorder. Workplace bullying can be very hazardous to you overall health. If you are the victim of workplace bullying you first have to recognize that it is happening to you. We sometimes ignore certain behaviors in the workplace because we need to keep our jobs and don’t want to make waves or cause trouble, but if you are experiencing physical and/or mental symptoms due to the abuse you have to do something before the stress and pressure lands you in the hospital or even worse.
So what can you do if you are being bullied at work? It depends on your company culture. Some companies have strict policies regarding workplace bullying and adhere to those polices, but other companies do not have policies against this behavior. Some companies actually enable the perpetrator(s) by not meting out some form of discipline or punishment when they are made aware of the abuse. In those cases it is highly unlikely that your situation will change and you will probably have to consider looking for a new job.
There are politicians in several states across the country that are lobbying to enact workplace bullying laws. At this time, there are not any laws that protect people from workplace bullying. Most employees who are being bullied are going to be very reluctant to start campaigning for such laws in fear of losing their current jobs or fear of future job prospects. The prevalence of workplace bullying is on the rise in this country especially in certain professions. Law firms tend to have a high incidence of workplace bullying because the legal field tends to attract bullying personalities.
This problem affects nearly half of all workers in this country so we can only hope that the legislators find a way to pass new laws making it illegal to bully someone in the workplace. In the meantime, be aware that this a real problem in the workplace and don’t be a party to the bullying of others in the workplace. Take action against it if you can and always exercise your option to change jobs if necessary. Everyone should be able to go to work everyday without the fear of being bullied at work.
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