October 17th, 2011

Freedom Week: The Time to Break Silence About Workplace Bullying

Bullying at work is a dirty little secret. Though it occurs with epidemic frequency (experienced by 35% of all adult Americans), it is a silent epidemic because it is too rarely discussed. Why the silence?

- personal shame by targets (who would brag about being humiliated?)
– coworkers frozen by bullies into not helping their bullied colleagues
– executives covering up for bullies they sponsor/support
– bullying is the American style of managing

Over time, fear paralyzes us all. Overcoming the inertia of inaction is difficult. We know.

But the most successful personal change plans are the ones triggered by events that suggest karma is working — a sign from above, a coincidental omen. That event becomes the excuse, the rationale, for doing something out of the ordinary.

WBI’s Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week is the reason to change how you are dealing with your bullying situation.

- City and County executives can formally recognize Freedom Week by proclamation. At the start of Freedom Week 2011, over 30 municipalities have issued such proclamations. Visit the gallery of proclamations.

- Bullied individuals and their families can take stock of the extent of the psychological injuries sustained from bullying. It sneaks up on everyone. High blood pressure goes undetected until the family physician asks what is stressful in your life. Use Freedom Week as the excuse to schedule an appointment to have your blood checked and to look for the onset of stress-related diseases. Ignoring your personal health is not a good idea. Bullying can kill. Please give your health as high a priority as keeping the salary to keep a roof over your head. If you die, no salary will have been worth it. Family members: please give your bullied partner or spouse the support she or he requires. They can build up credits that can be repaid when the bullying situation ends. Read the book The Bully At Work.

- Managers and executives need to calculate the financial losses attributable to preventable bullying. Bullies are actually too expensive to retain. However, the truth is that you are too loyal to bullies who have conned you over the years. When you acknowledge that “Bob” is a jerk, you are admitting the problem. But when you consider Bob indispensable, regardless of costs to the organization or his effect on others, you are condemning everyone to a living hell. Balance the needs of the business (profit making or budget balancing) with the narcissistic needs of Bob. Do the math. Talk to your Risk Manager. Bob is a liability. Stay friends if you must, but cut Bob loose for the sake of many. Honor your fiduciary responsibility to the organization. Bob will live on (elsewhere). Read the book The Bully-Free Workplace.

- Insurers and attorneys should warn your employer clients to prevent and correct costly bullying for their own self-interest and cost savings. Whether or not the employer has employment practices liability insurance (EPLI), bullying is costly. Premiums rise when liability increases. Bullies pose increasingly costly risks. Attorneys: you have been writing in recent years how your clients need to squelch bullying even though no specific laws exist. Continue this advice. Use Freedom Week to bolster that message. Visit The Work Doctor website to assure clients that something can be done about bullying.

- State lawmakers should enact legislation to curb bullying in the workplace. The Healthy Workplace Legislative Campaign has been around since 2003. It exists to help sympathetic lawmakers of all political parties to address health-harming abusive conduct at work (no need to call it workplace bullying). The Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) has been introduced in 21 states. In 2011, the HWB is alive in 11 states, including Massachusetts and New York. During Freedom Week, Wisconsin state Rep. Kelda Roys and Sen. Spencer Coggs are introducing the HWB in both legislative chambers.


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This entry was posted on Monday, October 17th, 2011 at 12:37 pm and is filed under Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. Jay Jacobus says:

    People in power have many ways to control their employees.

    One action that they take is to crush dissenters. This sends a message to all other employees.

    Another reason that targets don’t speak up is because their is no effective defense for a target.

    All historic examples favor the bully. No historic examples favor the target.

    No target chooses to be a target but once he is, he is doomed.

  2. TwilightZone says:

    The Bully Bob and Bobette’s of the workforce are actually indispensable to their superiors because there is NOTHING they will not do for management. They have no morals nor ethics and are easy to exploit. The CEOs live vicariously through them without sullying their own reputations. They keep Bob and Bobette on the payroll to carry out their dirty deeds and also to insure they aren’t “outed”. Toxic workplaces often need to be cleaned out from the top down.

  3. Bee says:

    I feel that in this economic decline, targets more and more are opting to fight than flight. One cannot afford to resign or be fired from a job that he/she has had for many years and nearing retirement because he has been victimized by a workplace bully. The workplace bullying is an effective strategy implimented and utilized by corporations/institutions as a way to streamline their budget. These bullys are supported by management and rewarded. Targets are channelling the negative experience into a positive; exposing the bullys and institutions, networking with community-based and government agencies and holding the Institutions accountable. The time for action is now!

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