December 4th, 2012

Holidays: Time of great vulnerability for targets of workplace bullying

The majority of workers have trivial decisions to make at work during the holiday season — which dress to wear to the company party, how much or little to drink, how not to get caught having sex on site, etc.

People targeted for bullying, however, can look forward to an increased level of misery.

1. More, not less, Work. While others play and wind down their work years, targets are expected to be on call and ramp up their schedules. They will cover for coworkers enjoying days off. Denial of vacation time or theft of paid time off is often the targets’ fate. By theft, I mean that we have seen time off scheduled and approved be “erased” and retroactively denied. If there exists a most undesirable day or shift to work during the holidays, it will be assigned to targets coupled with the threat of termination. It seems malicious steps are taken to deny targets time with their families or personal time.

2. Ostracism. Targets are isolated from coworkers. Sometimes this is ordered by supervisors who prohibit interactions (which is crueler than it sounds). In some cases, the gang leader of a coworker mob determines how to shun targets. Regardless of how it originates and who is the originator, social exclusion is a painful reality for too many targets. During holidays, the themes of peace, love, family and connections to fellow human beings ring hollow to bullied targets working alone the majority of their days. See the WBI 2008 study about coworker abandonment of targets.

3. Termination. It’s layoff season (and has been since 2008), but especially during holidays. Who loses jobs? Bullies or targets? If you don’t know, you are a foolish optimist. Targets are the discarded workers, the disfavored ones. It is they who are banished. End-of-the-year accounting necessities are the ready-made excuse.

4. Constructive discharge. Thanks partly to scheduling insults that compound the injuries inflicted during the entire year, bullied targets believe they have no option but to quit. The quit looks voluntary. However, the separation was engineered deliberately by management. Your work conditions became so unbearable, you had no option. They wanted you to quit.

See the WBI 2012 study in which we found that 25% of targets are fired, 25% are constructively discharged.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 at 7:00 am and is filed under Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies. 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. Andrea Tesei says:

    I’m displaced and out of a job but at the same time I’m so glad I won’t ever have to see those people again. The Sunday night chest pains, panic attacks while in traffic on my way to hell everyday ‘combo’ with lack of sleep and the daily feeling like I’m being chased in the woods by hunters who want to kill me just for fun is no longer there but the apprehension didn’t go away.  Sometimes when I read these articles I get the feeling that the company I used to work for had a handbook on how to harass and abuse employees because it seemed like they were going down a list. It’s so sad that this is so common and not unique to one story.. it’s such a problem being ignored by companies. What are people suppose to do when they cannot survive without a job but working becomes too painful it’s hard for them to go back. What is the future for people who can’t go back to that world in the long term, how do they get help to recover without a salary. This shouldn’t be allowed in our workplace, why is there no mandate for a code of conduct.

    • Am there, still doing it. Hope I can get out of there before I die.

    • yeskia says:

      Well said!  My experience was similar and I would like to add that there was a moment when I literally felt that I had a target hanging on my back.
      That is when I began to put the pieces together and do some research into the confused and distraught way I felt. 5 Years later and I am still haunted by that experience. If bullying is a microcosm of interpersonal relationships, then as humans we must change our perceptions about what civility, respect and personal accountability mean.

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