August 31st, 2012
WBI Survey: U.S. Employers Stopping Workplace Bullying — When & Why
The 7th Workplace Bullying Institute Instant Poll (2012-G) — survey results. Answering what it will take for U.S. employers to treat bullying as seriously as illegal forms of discrimination.
Employers are responsible for stopping workplace bullying because it is they who establish work conditions that result in either a safe or an unsafe work environment for employees. Managers are employers’ agents. Employers are legally liable actions done in their name.
Several other WBI empirical surveys show low employer engagement in the eradication of bullying. In this poll, we asked whether employers would ever stop it and what would compel them to do the right thing.
WBI Instant Polls are online single-question surveys that rely upon self-selected samples of individuals bullied at work (typically 98% of any sample). No demographic data are collected. Our non-scientific Instant Polls accurately depict the perceptions of workers targeted for bullying at work as contrasted with the views of all adult Americans in our scientific national surveys.
For this seventh WBI Instant Poll of 2012, we asked 338 site visitors:
What will it take for the majority of U.S. employers to take workplace bullying seriously and stop it?
The response choices (limit one per respondent) and the results were:
The majority never will. It accomplishes what they want. .305
The majority never will. They don’t know how to stop it. .115
When laws are in place, the majority will respond positively. .305
The majority will stop when they learn how expensive preventable bullying is. .231
The majority will stop when they see the immorality of abuse in the workplace. .044
A majority (58%) of bullied target-respondents believed that employers will eventually stop for some reason. Given their experience, the optimism is unexpected. Of course, 42% said that employers never will stop it for one of the two alternative reasons posed in the question.
Nearly a third of respondents think employers will act when there are laws in place. This the goal of the Healthy Workplace Campaign underway in several states.
Less than a fourth of respondents echo the rational “bottom-line” impact argument — that employers will stop bullying when they see how costly it is. Bullying itself is an irrational process. Targets know this from their first-hand experience. They have seen well-known bullies act with impunity despite being responsible for lost revenue from turnover, absenteeism, litigation, and a tarnished reputation.
Employer groups frequently claim that because bullying is so complex a phenomenon they don’t know how to stop it. Bullied targets do not give this excuse much credence; only 12% believe employers lack the skill to stop bullying. 31% said employers lack the will to stop it. It serves a purpose, however nefarious.
Gary Namie, PhD, WBI Research Director
© 2012 Workplace Bullying Institute, All Rights Reserved
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