US employers react to laws. The HWB will convince employers to prevent & correct health-harming abusive conduct. The WBI HWB campaign began in 2001. WBI State Coordinators create groups of Healthy Workplace Advocates to lobby legislators.
From June 1997 until the present, the Namies have led the first and only U.S. organization dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying that combines help for individuals via our websites & over 10,000 consultations, telephone coaching, conducting & popularizing scientific research, authoring books, producing education DVDs, leading training for professionals-unions-employers, coordinating national legislative advocacy, and providing consulting solutions for organizations. We proudly helped create the U.S. Academy of Workplace Bullying, Mobbing & Abuse.
Listen to Dr. Gary Namie be interviewed by Larry Buhl on the Labor Pains Podcast. The program covers workplace issues of today and tomorrow. Here Gary and Larry talk about workplace bullying and the NFL.
Our recent research revealed the sheer scale of bullying in IT workplaces. This showed that 75% of professionals we surveyed claimed to have been bullied at work, while 85% had seen others bullied. However, for me, the most serious part of it all was the sheer intensity of the first-person accounts.
We reviewed over 400-in-depth testimonials and these made for pretty harrowing reading. Quite aside from the steady grind of debilitating misery, 22% described the experience as 10/10 “virtually unbearable” and a number specifically mentioned suicide.
The trouble is there is no legislation to target this problem and many professionals simply can’t believe this is happening to them at work. This situation is worsened further by the fact the majority of bullies (76% by our findings) are in a senior position to their victim – this leaves many people absolutely terrified to make a fuss or appear a troublemaker.
So what can professionals realistically do about it? We’ve consulted two experts, one from each side of the Atlantic, to gain their viewpoints. We’ve included both sets of answers below.
Q&A with leading expert, Dr Namie, of the Workplace Bullying Institute
What practical steps can employees who feel they’re being bullied take?
It is critical for people who suffered emotional damage to strip out emotionality from their pleas for relief. Best to make the business case that bullies are too expensive to keep. It is impersonal and not emotionally charged. Sticking to facts allows the bullied target to make a presentation to the highest level manager or executive who agrees to listen to them.
Do you have any other particular advice for people who think they are being bullied?
Because bullying happens long before it is recognized, it’s important to pay attention to changes in your personal mood and wellbeing. If your health is adversely affected, trust your gut and connect the dots to see that toxic work conditions may be responsible. The sooner you make the causal link the healthier you will be.
Is there anything unique to the US which professionals ought to know about?
Employment law in the US provides the weakest protections for workers among the OECD nations. For this reason American employers not only treat bullying with indifference, they can encourage it with impunity.
Is there anything else you would like to share which might help individuals across the globe counteract this?
A lesson from our 17 year campaign against workplace bullying is that supporters and critics alike must see bullying as a form of non-physical workplace violence. Because it generates trauma in the most severe cases, it is a form of abuse akin to child-abuse and domestic violence. Therefore abusive conduct at work deserves the same societal and legal attention that other forms of abuse have earned.
The NFL — the No Effin’ Liability league for the boys of football — has struck again. As a multi-billion dollar enterprise (owned by revered American entrepreneurs — celebrities themselves who own celebrity labor), the league of owners of American professional football has shown itself to be incredibly inept. Their mouthpiece, the “commish” Roger Goodell seems driven solely to protect the NFL brand. He certainly is not a competent CEO though paid $44.2 million per year to be incompetent. I’m not sure he could work the drive-thru at McDonalds — it’s too fast moving and accuracy matters.
You see Roger got caught crafting corporate policy in a very public way, then revising it to be more punitive publicly, only to get caught acting unilaterally and reflexively, all the while completely ignoring his own stated “policy.” The man doesn’t know “strategery,”willing to act without thinking.
Ray Rice, star player for the Baltimore Ravens, was caught on a New Jersey casino hotel security video entering an elevator with this then-fiance, Janay Palmer. That same camera caught him dragging an unconscious Janay from the elevator minutes later.
Conclusion to be drawn by any reasonable person: Rice struck Palmer in the elevator. Local law enforcement, the district attorney and the judge seemed to believe an unknown third person must have assaulted her in the elevator. Charges were dismissed. The NFL also engaged in such magical thinking. Goodell was allowed to assume that if the courts didn’t care to protect Palmer and jail Rice, the Ravens and NFL had little to worry about. And the only worry for the team and league is LEGAL liability. Just protect the shield, baby (tip to Al Davis).
Goodell decided that he had better punish Rice in some way. He grazed him with a 2-game suspension. Even within the NFL’s hierarchy of punishments, the penalty was light as compared to a pot smoking 6-game suspension. The inequity was obvious to all immediately but not to Goodell. Weeks later, he publicly declared that a domestic violence first-time violation committed by a player (nothing said about the distinction between proof, accusation, arrest, indictment or conviction) would draw a 6-game penalty. What to do with Rice retroactively? Suddenly two new domestic violence cases emerged with San Francisco and Carolina players. What to do? Goodell waited.
Into the breach strode that paragon of journalism, TMZ, with the missing link — video from the elevator. At last, Goodell could see what had actually happened between the video sequences taken outside the elevator. He rapidly, within the day, compelled the Ravens team to fire Rice and the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely (which in the past has always been the route to redemption and restoral of playing privileges).
Goodell expected praise. Instead, there have been calls for his head. ESPN talking head, attorney, and former NFL quarterback Steve Young opined that the Ravens should have acted like a responsible corporate employer and sent Rice home without pay pending an investigation.
I’ll let ESPN’s Keith Olbermann explain why Goodell and the Ravens and county officials screwed up. He calls for mass resignations. Obermann says Goodell “comforted the violent and afflicted the victim” and is an “enabler of men who beat women.”
As an institution, the NFL is screwy. The people in charge seem incapable of owning the responsibility for what they have done. It’s all deflection and denial. Just protect the shield, baby.
You shouldn’t call people names. You shouldn’t yell, or belittle others. These are lessons we’re supposed to learn as children, but unfortunately, such behaviors persist long after we’ve left the playground: Workplace bullying is sadly commonplace.
It doesn’t just take place among coworkers. A common tick of the Bad Boss is to select an office scapegoat on whom he or she can dump any built up frustration/anger/aggression at whim.
It makes sense that direct targets of their bosses’ abuse would experience a decrease in productivity; if your boss is frequently yelling at you, your work will likely suffer.
But a new study from a team of researchers at Michigan State University found that when a boss frequently bullies one employee, the entire team’s productivity decreases. The study involved looking at verbal abuse and demeaning emails in a controlled lab setting.
“That’s the most disturbing finding,” lead investigator Crystal Farh said in a press release, “because it’s not just about individual victims now, it’s about creating a context where everybody suffers, regardless of whether you were individually abused or not.”
According to her research, while targeted individuals contributed less (as one would expect), their team members “descended into conflicts” and also, on average, were less productive.
Farh’s main takeaway? In the wake of any situation where a boss is bullying an underling, everyone on the team – not just that employee – will need help repairing interpersonal relationships and rebuilding trust. In other words, bullying bosses are truly toxic because their bad behavior spreads, infecting the entire office.
It’s an issue that I don’t think gets enough attention, considering how big of a problem it is.
I was really shocked and surprised when I learned at how often bullying in the workplace takes place.
A recent survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute shed some important light on this issue.
Let’s look at some of the more interesting numbers from the survey:
27% of Americans have suffered abusive conduct at work
21% have witnessed bullying
56% of the time it was from the top-down (more on this later)
Hispanics and African american workers experience more of the bullying
Most employers either deny or discount the bullying
38% of co workers did nothing (although I don’t blame them)
These numbers are incredible.
The 2 numbers that really stick out at me, are the fact that 56% of the time, it comes from a manager or senior leader, and that most employers deny or discount (25% and 16% respectively).
This is why I’m such a big fan of having a flat hierarchy. It’s been proven many times that power corrupts, and so it doesn’t surprise me that most of the bullying comes from someone in a higher position of power than you.
For the employer to hide or discount it as not being serious is so stupid. It’s incredibly serious, because it has a major effect on your company culture.
According to a study from the Sauder School of Business at UBC, workers who witness bullying have a stronger urge to quit than those who experience it firsthand.
A lot of people don’t stop to think about this. The bullying doesn’t only affect the person that was bullied. It has a terrible effect on morale. And as the study showed, just witnessing workplace bullying gets people to want to quit.
This is what happened to me personally at a company I used to work for.
For those entering the workforce, typical top-of-mind issues include opportunities for growth, benefits, and job security — but nearly half of those entering the nursing profession voice another concern: being bullied by colleagues. According to a just-released Kaplan survey of over 2,000 nursing school graduates from the class of 2014, 48% say they are concerned about being the victims of workplace bullying or working in a hostile working environment.* The survey also found that 39% personally knew nurses who were victims of workplace bullying or a hostile working environment.
One widely cited study found that approximately 60% of nurses left their first nursing job within six months because of bullying issues or because of a hostile work environment.** And studies conducted over the past decade show there’s a financial cost to this for medical providers, ranging from $22,000 to over $64,400 per turnover. (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/569393_2).
We reported in late July about the long-standing feud between second generation owners of the Market Basket grocery store chain in the Northeast. Arthur S. Demoulas fired his cousin Artie T. Workers rose in support because he had done several costly things to help financially strapped workers when the stock market collapse ate up retirement savings. Local politicians called for boycotts of the stores. Shelves ran bare. Governors in two states pled for a solution.
Now, Artie T.’s offer to buy the chain, to remove Artie S., has been accepted by the Board. Artie T. will restore all lost jobs. Artie S. had fired protestors.