Posts Tagged ‘coworkers’
Friday, July 7th, 2017
2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
Reactions to Workplace Bullying by Employers and Witnesses
Reactions to Workplace Bullying by Employers and Witnesses
71% of U.S. employers react to reports of abusive conduct in ways that harm targets
60% of coworker/witnesses’ reactions to bullying harmed their targeted colleagues
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.
Employers have the power to either sustain or eliminate abusive conduct. Anecdotal evidence suggests that American employers rarely take steps to assist the aggrieved employee (the target). This question asks what the public believes employers actually do. [N = 479; no experience respondents deleted.]
Wording of the Employer Reaction Question: Upon learning of the abusive conduct, what did the employer do?
For many respondents, employer reactions were obscured. Two sub-groups of respondents were eliminated – “employer never learned” and “not sure” – representing 56% of the initial sample. For a host of possible reasons (e.g., the target never reported it), employer actions were unknown to over half of the sample. It is also very difficult for observers to be certain what employers know and what they do because so many actions are shrouded in secrecy beneath the veil of “confidentiality.”
Respondents who were sufficiently certain of what employers did, the remaining 44% of the sample [N = 212], concluded that 71% of employers took steps that did not benefit the targeted worker. The most frequent negative employer reaction is to conduct what targets describe as “sham” investigations characterized by major shortcomings. Investigator biases are often legend. Coworkers, for understandable reasons, fail to corroborate their bullied peer’s account of alleged bullying incidents. Key individuals are not interviewed. Greater weight is given to perpetrators’ versions of incidents. Objective historical documentation is ignored or discounted. “Sham” investigations end with an inconclusive result but with inadequate or inaccurate execution. To be fair to investigators with integrity, the process is fraught with problems in bullying cases different than investigations of routine conflict or illegal forms of discriminatory misconduct. An endpoint of “she said/she said” is common. WBI survey respondents say it happens in 46% of cases.
Because abusive conduct is a form of workplace violence, the complainant has likely suffered long prior to requesting an investigation. Therefore, when no work environment changes to restore psychological safety for complainants follow an investigation, investigators necessarily should understand the perception of incredulity by victims of the psychological violence.
Employer apologists might argue that an employer’s decision to do nothing is an act of neutrality. However, this is wrong. Doing nothing or showing indifference to filed complaints or discovering a procedural technicality to justify not responding to the complaints is an act of complicity with the aggressor. By enabling bullying with impunity, the institution takes the side of perpetrators and provides shelter from the accountability they seek. Doing nothing happens 26% of the time, according to the survey respondents.
Positive employer actions resulted in 29% of cases. Perpetrators endured negative outcomes in only 6% of the cases.
Results from several WBI online surveys of bullied targets reliably show that coworkers rarely help their bullied colleagues. Several social psychological processes operate in the group setting to explain the failure to act prosocially toward colleagues. The question explored a range of positive and negative actions taken by witnesses to the bullying. [N = 362 with no experience respondents and “not sure” respondents deleted.]
Wording of the Question: How did most of the witnesses react to the repeated mistreatment of their targeted coworker?
Doing nothing was the most cited tactic (40%). Of course, doing nothing to help colleagues when they are distressed is not a neutral act. It is negative. However, it is not the same as betraying the target by siding with the perpetrator(s), believed by respondents from the general American public to happen in only 4% of cases.
Positive witness reactions occurred in 40% of cases, according to survey respondents. Negative actions were taken in 60% of cases.
Gary Namie, PhD
WBI Research Director
View findings related to other questions asked in the 2017 Survey.
Tags: 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, abusive conduct, coworker inaction in bullying incidents, coworkers, doing nothing is not neutral, employer reactions to bullying, Gary Namie, witnesses, workplace bullying
Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
WBI: Justice is about to be meted out in Madison Wisconsin three years after Philip Otto took his own life though he was close to retirement from the WI Department of Corrections. Otto had transferred from one facility to another. The climate at Oakhill represented by the actions of several coworkers and led by one supervisor was extremely toxic and unwelcoming. After his death, investigations were conducted leading to terminations of key coworkers. The supervisor was allowed to retire. One captain was reinstated. Other workers filed an appeal with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission asking for reinstatement. The hearing examiner Stuart Levitan heard testimony during 16 days in 2013. I reviewed the record and testified on behalf of the State concluding that the fired employees (Rachel Koester, Matthew Seiler and Justyn Witscheber) had demeaned, harassed, bullied and disgraced their peer, Mr. Otto, who had transferred recently to their facility — new to the place, but a veteran corrections officer. Progress in the case reported below is that the hearing examiner ruled Rachel Koester was justly terminated, according to a pending decision released on March 4. … Gary Namie
Examiner: Firing of Oakhill Guard Following Suicide Was Proper
By Dee J. Hall, Wisconsin State Journal, March 31, 2015
A hearing examiner has determined that the state Department of Corrections properly fired a guard who allegedly shunned and belittled a fellow officer who later committed suicide.
Philip Otto, 52, killed himself in March 2012 after what his wife, daughter and co-workers described as a pattern of bullying by fellow employees at Oakhill Correctional Institution.
The 20-year DOC veteran’s death came just months before he planned to retire with full benefits, his wife, Peggy Otto, told the State Journal in 2012.
In the proposed decision dated March 4, Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission examiner Stuart Levitan found the firing of correctional officer Rachel Koester was justified. He cited an internal investigation launched after Otto’s death in which dozens of Oakhill staffers were interviewed.
Tags: bullying, coworkers, Oakhill, Philip Otto, Rachel Koester, suicide, Wisconsin Dept of Corrections
Posted in Rulings by Courts, Target Tale, WBI Education | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Thursday, October 16th, 2014
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – D
WBI credits friend and researcher Loraleigh Keashly for coining the term Emotional Abuse at Work as synonym for workplace bullying. Her 1998 review of the then-current scientific literature was aptly titled. Bullying always impacts the targeted person’s emotional state. The effect is always negative, not positive. In most cases, individuals are either happy or emotionally neutral at work, content to do their jobs. Bullying comes unannounced and uninvited. It compels immediate attention. All of one’s cognitive resources are deployed to cope with the psychological assault.
In worst cases, there is trauma that must be dealt with. In all cases, the target is stigmatized and social relations with coworkers strained. At the very least, the onset of bullying is a sad event. The once neutral or happy person is forced into negativity. At the outset, attempts to think “happy, positive thoughts” are overwhelmed by the negative reality imposed by the abuser.
Bullying triggers distress, the human stress response in reaction to the bully’s tactics, the stressors. If left unabated, prolonged distress leads to stress-related diseases, all sorts of health complications.
The most effective stress mitigation factor is social support. Validating human support can reverse the deleterious effects of emotional abuse. Isolation exacerbates the distress. Sometimes learning about the first-time experience can alleviate distress. After all, bullying is rather ambiguous when first experienced.
WBI research (WBI IP 2013-H) found that for 33% of bullied targets, their bullying at work was the first abuse ever experienced in their lives. Those people will take the longest to recognize Only 19% were bullied in school; they may or may not recognize the bullying happening to them at work because they might have expected bullying to have ended with school ending. Sadly, 44% of targets have a prior history with abuse from family experiences. Prior history alone does not guarantee instant recognition and labeling of the emotional abuse happening to them, but their visceral reactions become cues to recognition. They have “been there before” with respect to the emotional negativity; they have known fear, apprehension and anxiety.
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 survey, we asked 820 respondents (bullied targets and witnesses) to describe sources of positivity for bullied targets shrouded in negative emotions.
Question: As a bullied target, who made you feel better, changed your negative emotions to positive or at least less negative?
Tags: 2014 IP d, bullied targets, bullying research, coping strategies, coworkers, family, friends, Gary Namie, instant poll, social support, workplace bullying, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies | 2 Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
COWORKER REACTION TO BULLYING in 2014
Results from several WBI online surveys of bullied targets reliably show that coworkers rarely help their bullied colleagues. Several social psychological processes operate in the group setting to explain the failure to act prosocially.
The perspective of the general public captured in this national Survey describes circumstances somewhat more positively than surveys of bullied targets. We believe the reference to “most of the witnesses” led to these inexplicable results. The flaw is in the design of the question.
Doing nothing was the most cited tactic. Of course, doing nothing to help colleagues when they are distressed is not a neutral act. It is negative. However, it is not the same as betraying the target by siding with the perpetrator(s). Negative actions were taken in 49% of cases.
Tags: 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, bullying statistics, coworkers, Daniel Christensen, David Phillips, Gary Namie, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
Impact of Workplace Bullying
Despite the rare success story in coworkers joined the bullied target to confront the bully and jointly testified to the employer about what was done to their injured colleague, most coworkers are notorious for not helping bullied targets. It is hurtful to expect that level of support. From a 2008 WBI study, we know that that rare collaboration happens in less than 1% of cases.
Here we want to discuss how witnesses to bullying in their workplace can be adversely affected. From the WBI 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, we know that 21% of adult Americans have been indirect, or vicarious, victims of bullying. Just as families are affected without being the direct targets of bullying, so are coworkers.
Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
The inaction of witnesses is an underreported aspect of the media saturation coverage of the Martin-Dolphins-Incognito bullying case.
As all bullied targets are aware, witnessing coworkers do little to help. In less than 2% of cases they spring to action to help bullied colleagues. [See the WBI 2008 Coworker Response survey] They are fearful — of being next, of betraying the bully and of getting harmed when intervening.
In the Dolphins locker room, there were many 300 pound witnesses to Richie Incognito’s mistreatment of Jonathan Martin. Why didn’t they simply stomp Incognito into the ground?
Here are some reasons.
(1) Incognito had “leader” status among the players. By some he was revered. Remember a coach called him a “model citizen.” He was the NFL personified.
(2) Incognito had a history of aggression with some. In the past he might have made them his targets. Burned once, former targets lay low.
(3) Cowardly witnesses — professional athletes and accountants alike — don’t want to get involved, reasoning it safest for them to stay out of others’ disputes. These are the do-nothing enablers. They are the “good Germans” Hitler depended on to tame the nation.
(4) Witnesses rationalize their failure to stand by colleagues hurt by relationships within the team by believing that the bullied target somehow deserved his fate. Martin must have angered Incognito for Incognito to have ridden him for a full season and one-half. This blame-the-victim tendency is not restricted to sports organizations or workplaces in general; it is societal. It is called the Fundamental Attribution Error.
(5) The target deserved his fate. Martin is not a full participant in the macho NFL culture as practiced in the Dolphins locker room.
We observers of bullying in our workplaces declare that we would intervene because it is the right thing to do. However, this optimism is balderdash. When circumstances call for intervention, we are all cowards.
To date, Martin is alone in walking out. He should not expect much public support, though friends will call confidentially. Incognito’s sycophants will Twitter his virtues for the world to read.
Follow the full story in the Category list in the sidebar: NFL: Jonathan Martin
Tags: bullied targets, bystanders, coworkers, Gary Namie, Joe Philbin, Jonathan Martin, Miami Dolphins, NFL, Richie Incognito, witnesses
Posted in NFL: Jonathan Martin, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
Wheaton, Illinois city officials, embarrassed by the recent disclosure of a culture of bullying and harassment that some say has lurked in a specific city department for years, say the city and department have rebounded in the months since the incidents were reported to council members.
A recent investigative report by the Chicago Tribune uncovered a city employee who is believed to have endured years of “crude pranks, improper touching and taunts about sensitive personal issues” and the discipline meted out against the two co-workers responsible and their supervisors.
Mayor Michael Gresk said Monday that, back in February, one of the “primary tormentors” was suspended without pay for one week while another was moved to a different division. Supervisors, he said, were also disciplined “for letting it go on,” but he did not disclose their punishment.
“This is a situation that we address in regular training so if this behavior was going on, it was under the radar. Once senior management became aware of it they jumped on it and launched an investigation,” Gresk said, noting the discipline was handed down in February and the council made aware of the situation in April. “We are not taking this lightly as a city. Once we were made aware, there was a police investigation and hours and hours of meetings with human resources officials with all of the parties involved.
Tags: abuse, coworkers, Evelyn Pacino Sanguinetti, Illinois, John Rutledge, Michael Gresk, Todd Scalzo, Wheaton, workplace bullying, workplace violence
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | 2 Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Thursday, August 8th, 2013
By Susan Kreimer, Main Street, August 7, 2013
Bullies exert control in schools, playgrounds, cyber space—and in the workplace, too. But adults typically don’t expect as much empathy as kids do. Many suffer in silence.
“Ideally, coworkers should intervene,” says Gary Namie, who co-founded the Workplace Bullying Institute with his wife, Ruth, in Bellingham, Wash. in 1997. “However, research shows that this happens in less than 1% of incidents.” Compounding a bullied worker’s misery, “employers seem reluctant to act.”
Bullying on the job occurs four times more often than sexual harassment or racial discrimination, according to the institute, which is leading a national campaign to enact the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill in all 50 states.
Tags: anti-bullying legislation, coworkers, David Yamada, Gary Namie, Healthy Workplace Bill, Main Street, North Dakota State University, Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, sexual harassment, Susan Kreimer, workplace bullying
Posted in Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI in the News | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
Are bullies demons? Bully apologists abhor “demonizing” abusers in the workplace. What’s the alternative? Revere them. Thank them for showing us how loathsome and dark can be the human condition? Ignore their cruelty foisted on the best and brightest workers whose principal goal of every day is to be “left alone” to do their jobs? Of course, that’s exactly what bully apologists do. We think they stand on the wrong side of the moral fence.
We at WBI are target-centric. We’ve chosen the other side. We didn’t start the U.S. Workplace Bullying movement to treat it as an academic exercise in neutrality. Targets deserve and need support. Institutions do a fine job of defending perpetrators.
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
In a just published large sample (n=4,238) study across four Swedish industries — paper mills, steel factory and truck manufacturer — researchers from the government’s Institute of Environmental Medicine followed witnesses to workplace bullying for 18 months. At the end of the measurement period, women witnesses showed a higher prevalence of clinical depression (33.3%) than did men witnesses (16.4%).
This study clearly showed that exposure to bullying, a vicarious experience for witnesses, is a significant risk factor in developing depression from negative conditions in the workplace. That’s the major finding from the study.