Posts Tagged ‘bullied targets’


SHRM: Bullies as References for Targets

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Bully Bosses Can Inflict More Damage with Negative References

By Dinah Wisenberg Brin, SHRM, Feb 12, 2018

Employees trying to escape a bullying boss, and even those who have managed to land a new position, may be surprised to learn that their workplace nemesis is causing further damage by providing negative job references.

HR departments similarly may not realize that supervisors are disregarding company policies against giving references that go beyond confirming job titles and employment dates.

With prospective employers often bypassing human resources and calling supervisors for references, bully bosses can and do impair employees’ future job prospects, experts say.

“In the good old days, the references were HR, and in many cases, in many companies, HR still is the traditional venue. But we’ve seen a marked shift of interest in calling the former supervisors,” said Jeff Shane, president of reference-checking firm Allison & Taylor. “Hiring managers have long since figured out that supervisors tend to be far more talkative.”

Job seekers often wrongly believe that their current or former employers will say nothing negative and do no more than confirm employment, Shane said.

Many supervisors, however, never receive company training on how to respond to employee reference checks, while many others forget or ignore the policy, he added. His Rochester, Mich.-based firm checks references on behalf of job seekers, compiles reports on responses from former employers, and, if necessary, sends cease-and-desist letters to companies violating policies or even laws by supplying negative references that cross the line into misrepresentations or lies and that could be construed as defamation.

“We call a great many supervisors as references for individuals. The vast majority of the time, the supervisor has something to say” beyond titles and employment dates; their reviews, even if sincere, often are less than optimal. “In many instances, they know exactly what they’re doing” and that the employee is unlikely to ever find out if the negative review caused a missed opportunity, Shane said.

Nearly half of all reference checks that Allison & Taylor conducts contain some degree of negativity, he said. Even a supervisor who gives an employee a positive letter of recommendation will sometimes go “180 degrees in another direction” when called for a reference, he said.

Smart firms wanting to avoid litigation coach bosses to give only employment dates, said Gary Namie, Ph.D., co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, which refers bullying targets to Allison & Taylor to learn about feedback from a current or former employer. Often the news confirms a candidate’s fear, and “a great many of our clients are totally shocked and devastated” by what is found. (more…)

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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



WBI’s take on the #MeToo Sexual Harassment Revolution

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

An incomparable amount of public attention has been fixed on sexual harassment in the latter half of 2017. It’s a tsunami, a virtual revolution.

We are finishing a short book, a primer, a white paper on lessons and opportunities for bullied targets to apply from the new movement and changing employer landscape.

The publication will be available for sale at a nominal price in early January 2018.

Check back to get your copy.

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Posted in Books, Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, Media About Bullying, Products & Services, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



New WBI Instant Poll: Aftermath of Bullying

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

For those who lost a job to bullying, describe the aftermath.

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2017 WBI U.S. Survey: What Stops Workplace Bullying?

Friday, July 7th, 2017

2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
Stopping Workplace Bullying


65% of bullying stops when the target loses the job held when first bullied

The Workplace Bullying Institute commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct the 2017 national scientific U.S. survey across two days in late April. The stratified random sample of 1,008 individuals represented all adult Americans. [Zogby methodology and sample details here.] It was WBI’s fourth national survey.

We used the definition of workplace bullying that matches perfectly the definition codified in the Healthy Workplace Bill. Bullying is repeated mistreatment but also “abusive conduct.” We asked American survey respondents to consider only the most serious forms of bullying.

At WBI, we have been immersed in the lives of bullied targets for two decades. Ideally, employers would recognize the risks workplace bullying/abusive conduct pose and act rationally to stop it. However, we know from targets, this is not the case.

Bullying in its simplest manifestation is dyadic. There is a target and a perpetrator. This question explores how much each player contributes to stopping the bullying and through which personal consequences. [N = 350 with no experience respondents and “not sure” respondents deleted.]

Wording of the Stopping the Bullying Question: What stopped the abusive mistreatment?

This Survey question provided the response option: “It has not stopped” that was chosen by 25% of respondents. Thus, the sample was reduced to N = 263 when those respondents were eliminated. The subsequent percentages in the above Table are based on the new sample that excluded the 25%. The options were chosen only by those for whom the bullying had stopped, either for targets or witnesses.

The sad reality is that even the general public seems to know that it is the target, the victim of the abuse, who is asked to make additional sacrifices to stop the bullying. In 54% of cases, bullying stops only when the target loses her or his job. Remember that individuals do not invite this severe misery into their work lives. Therefore, once a person is targeted for bullying – a choice made by the perpetrator(s) – that person has a 5 out of 10 chance of losing her or his livelihood. If one adds the 11% of targets who had to transfer to retain employment, 65% of targets had to leave the job they loved for no cause.

Furthermore, the target is driven to quit. Voluntary quitting (23%) is usually based on escalating health problems that families and physicians recognize, then encourage the target to leave the job. But 12% of quitting is based on decisions made after work conditions become untenable, so cruel as to drive a rational person to escape. Constructive discharge is the goal for many perpetrators. Terminations (8%) of the skilled but threatening (to bullies) targets are typically based on fabricated lies. Several WBI surveys of bullied targets substantiate this claim.

Accepting a transfer to retain a job (11%), to bullied targets, is often a source of perceived injustice. Their reasoning is “I did nothing to deserve the abuse, why should I be the one to leave the job I love and am best qualified to perform.” To many, transfers are punitive. On the other hand, it prevents economic devastation and might provide a degree of psychological safety.

The pattern of results from this national sample stands in marked contrast with WBI studies asking the same question of a sample of only bullied targets. To them, the ratio of negative consequences experienced by targets is 7:1 when compared to negatives for perpetrators. The public overestimates the proportion of negative consequences suffered by perpetrators.

In this 2017 version of the national survey, we added the option for respondents to choose –employers stopped the bullying by doing something positive and proactive such as creating a policy or conducting credible investigations. Ten percent of respondents chose this option.

Gary Namie, PhD
WBI Research Director

Download the pdf version of these Stopping the Bullying findings.

View findings related to other questions asked in the 2017 Survey.

Download the complete report of the 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.

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Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



2017 WBI U.S. Survey: How Rarely Bullied Targets Complain

Friday, July 7th, 2017

2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
Notification by Bullied Targets


29% of targets remain silent about their abusive conduct
only 17% seek formal resolution

The Workplace Bullying Institute commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct the 2017 national scientific U.S. survey across two days in late April. The stratified random sample of 1,008 individuals represented all adult Americans. [Zogby methodology and sample details here.] It was WBI’s fourth national survey.

We used the definition of workplace bullying that matches perfectly the definition codified in the Healthy Workplace Bill. Bullying is repeated mistreatment but also “abusive conduct.” We asked American survey respondents to consider only the most serious forms of bullying.

A key enabling factor of abusive conduct at work is silence. No one talks about what they have either witnessed or directly experienced. Personal shame is frequently a large part of the experience for targets. Without overt sharing of the bullying incidents and the impact of those incidents, the organizational culture that fostered bullying remains unchanged. Perpetrators rely on silence to act with impunity.

This survey question queried who, if anyone, targets told about their experiences and whether informal or formal resolution was sought through employers. [N = 380; no experience respondents and “not sure” respondents deleted.]

Wording of the Notification Question: To what extent did the targeted person make the mistreatment known?

Over one-quarter (29%) of targets were believed to have remained silent over their embarrassing experiences as recipients of abuse at work. Over one-half (53%) of respondents who felt certain about their perceptions of what targets said and to whom believed that targets engaged in only informal notification. That left 18%, less than one in five bullied targets who pursued formal steps to stop the bullying.

Of course, a silent target is likely to suffer from prolonged exposure to distressful work conditions. In fairness, employers cannot be expected to curb bullying when they hear no reports of its occurrence. Targets, without necessarily making a deliberate decision, become their own worst enemies. It is noteworthy that a group of targets of unknown size do choose to not inform their employers out of a genuine fear of retaliation and reprisal.

Contrary to the myth that victims (targets) are “sue-crazy,” only 5% take their stories outside the boundaries of their employers’ world. Thus, bullying is a secret kept by employers within their organizations. A mere 3% use federal or state agencies to seek redress. A miniscule 2% ever file a lawsuit. The author of this report, in the role of expert witness in litigation cases, can confirm that only a small proportion of file lawsuits ever make it the courtroom to be tried on the merits of the cases. The vast majority are tossed by judges acceding to employer motions for summary judgment or dismissal.

Gary Namie, PhD
WBI Research Director

Download the pdf version of these Notification By Target findings.

View findings related to other questions asked in the 2017 Survey.

Download the complete report of the 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.

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Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



Bullies are too expensive to keep

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

We at WBI have labored to convince employers that if they view bullying through their “loss prevention” perspective, the only rational action is to purge the one or two destructive individuals who have tormented many more others over the years. It is the rational choice because it stops the losses and prevents future ones.

Still, American employers who face no legal workplace bullying standard are safe to ignore it, when and if they wish. Ignoring and treating it with indifference or flat-out denial that bullying happens on their watch are the typical responses. They do so out of loyalty to the abuser. Simultaneously this sends the message that everyone else is expendable, dispensable and worthless.

We list the following tangible bully-related costs: undesirable turnover, absenteeism, increased utilization of healthcare-workers comp-diability insurance, and litigation-related expenses. This is not simply theoretical.

The New York Times reports that Fox News has paid out over $13 million in case settlements to five women who claimed that network host Bill O’Reilly sexually harassed them. Some of the women worked for him; others were guests on his show.

(more…)

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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Tutorials About Bullying | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



New poll: Most distressing workplace factor of bullying experience

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Dear Bullied Targets

There are few studies asking bullied targets to state which workplace factor distresses them most about their bullying experience. So, we attempt to answer that question. The response choices shown all are important. But we want veterans of bullying to tell us which ONE they believe has been the most memorable/disturbing/bothersome/crazymaking of them all.

Tell your friends. Send them the link to this page to complete the survey.

Watch for results soon.

For bullied targets: Of all the disturbing aspects of what happened to you, which ONE WORKPLACE factor caused you the MOST distress?

View Results

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Bullied targets’ political activity survey

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

On the heels of the WBI Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week, when we call for State lawmakers to introduce and aggressively support our anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, we survey bullied individuals about their level of political activity.

Have you explained why a strong anti-bullying law is needed to your elected State representatives or senators?

View Results

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Posted in WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies | 2 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



A look back at 2012 Freedom Week at the National Press Club: Tales from the Trenches

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015


Lana Cooke, West Virginia State Coordinator, Healthy Workplace Bill campaign

Ernie Cooke, Lana’s supportive husband, Requiescat in pace dear gentle man

Jane Bethel, Virginia State Coordinator, Healthy Workplace Bill campaign

Neil Dias, Verizon

Susan Rae Baker

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Posted in Freedom Week, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



UCC massacre aftermath a recognizable pattern to bullied targets

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Bullied targets have trouble getting a fair, complete and transparent investigation of their complaints. They are retaliated against for daring to air their employer’s dirty laundry. They are accustomed to reports that find no fault by the accused perpetrators.

Often the people put in charge of the complaints do not believe those hurt. They bring their anti-complainant biases to the task that requires an open-mindedness they do not possess.

I have written about a problematic spokesperson for the post-massacre information about the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

In many ways, Sheriff Hanlin’s ability to block and guide the flow of information, mirrors the experiences of bullied targets who feel railroaded by a less than impartial response to their complaints of health-harming mistreatment.

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment () »



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