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The Impact of Workplace Bullying

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May 13th, 2014

Impact Of Workplace Bulying

Consequences for Employers

The consequences of workplace bullying may include the following, bearing in mind that many of these points may be as a result of other internal or external factors:

  • Reduced efficiency, productivity and profitability;
  • Increased absenteeism, sick leave and staff turnover;
  • Poor morale, erosion of employee loyalty and commitment;
  • Increased costs associated with recruitment and training;
  • Increased workers’ compensation claims;
  • Increased indirect costs such as management time, engaging mediators or counselors;
  • Adverse publicity and poor public image;
  • An unsafe work environment and potential fines for breaches of the occupational health and safety legislation;
  • Costs resulting from failure to meet legislative provisions including civil and criminal actions;
  • Legal costs incurred defending a claim of workplace bullying;
  • Vicarious liability and other associated employer liabilities;
  • Potential increase to insurance and workers’ compensation premiums.

Consequences for Employees

Workplace bullying can cause extensive health problems for employees exposed to this hazard, including physical and psychological illnesses and injuries. It can have detrimental effects and costs for the employer, as well as impacting on co-workers, clients, customers, business associates, family and friends. Bullying can disrupt work to the extent that action has to be taken to restore order and confidence. The implications are even more serious if bullied employees suffer ill health and stay away from the workplace.

The reaction of individual employees will vary according to the nature of the bullying. It is possible that employees who are bullied may experience some of the following effects:

  • Stress, anxiety or sleep disturbance;
  • Panic attacks or impaired ability to make decisions;
  • Incapacity to work, concentration problems, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem or reduced output and performance;
  • Depression or a sense of isolation;
  • Physical injury;
  • Reduced quality of home and family life;
  • Suicide.

The costs to the organisation include reduced efficiency, unsafe work environment, increased absenteeism, poor morale, increased workers’ compensation claims and civil action. Therefore, it is in an organisation’s interest to maintain a bullying-free workplace rather than having to intervene or mediate during an established pattern of bullying.

Why Bullying Goes Unreported

It is in the best interest of employers to take action to minimise the likelihood of bullying in their workplace. Left unmanaged it can severely affect efficiency, productivity and profitability through increased absenteeism, staff turnover and poor morale. However, it needs to be recognised that sometimes employees may fear retribution from the bully or bullies if they report grievances and cooperate with inquiries.

Bullying can severely undermine an individual’s confidence and self-esteem, making it difficult to speak up, especially if bullying is perceived to be part of the workplace culture. They may fear speaking out will compromise their future opportunities and wellbeing at work, particularly when others in the workplace are reluctant to support them.

It is important, therefore, that employers promote a clear message that bullying is unacceptable in the workplace. Employers should also ensure that all the employees are aware that the workplace has established anti-bullying procedures, know the process for the reporting and have an understanding that their reports will be dealt with in a proper manner.

Remember, even if a person does not make a complaint about workplace bullying, they may still be offended or adversely affected by the behaviour and the behaviour may still be unacceptable.

May 13th, 2014

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