December 2nd, 2013

Workplace Bullying Institute Research: Bullying by Industry

WBI – 2013 – Industry Survey

The purpose of this final 2013 survey was to determine in which industries workplace bullying occurs.

A total of 401 respondents completed this “Industry” survey during the summer of 2013.

The questions and proportions for each response are found below.

What is your gender?

.853 Female

.147 Male

The WBI online survey respondents are typically over 80% women, 85% in this case.

What is your highest level of education?

.322 Some college / AA

.264 Master’s degree

.249 Bachelor’s degree

.092 High school / GED

.070 Doctorate

.002 Less than high school

During your time as a target of workplace bullying, or when you witnessed it happening to others:

What was your age?

Average reported age was 47 years

What was your employment status?

.903 Full-time

.067 Part-time

.020 Independent contractor

.010 Temp worker

What was your rank?

.721 Non-supervisory worker

.120 Middle manager

.100 Supervisor

.057 Senior manager/executive

.002 Owner (n=1)

Were any of the following licenses or professional certificates required?

.521 N/A

.195 Other industry specific license (eg. realtor, equipment technician, pilot, etc.)

.107 RN, LVN, or NP

.082 Certified teacher

.047 MD, JD, or PhD

.047 Counselor/Psychologist (eg. MHP, MFCC, etc.)

Were you a union member?

.741 Non-union

.259 Union

In what industry did you work?


.140 Healthcare – Hospital

.110 Healthcare – Clinic/Office

.015 Healthcare – In-home


.120 Education – College/University

.110 Education – K-12

Service Industry

.050 Customer Service

.040 Retail

.005 Restaurant / Fast food

.005 Hospitality


.050 Manufacturing

Information Technology

.045 IT

Public Services

.122 Public Services (Fire, EMT, USPS, ect.)

.017 Law Enforcement / Corrections / Security

.025 Defense / Defense related


.032 Other Financial

.022 Skilled Trades

.022 Legal

.020 Banking

.015 Travel & Transportation

.015 Construction

.012 Entertainment

.007 Agriculture

In what sector?

.318 Corporate, medium to large business

.171 State / Provincial

.129 Large non-profit

.096 County / Regional

.086 Small business

.068 City Government

.066 Small non-profit

.053 Federal U.S.

.013 Federal Canada


For years we have been saying that healthcare and education are the prime industries most prone to bullying.

This 2013 study supports our conjecture with data.

The reasoning for the bullying proneness is that these two fields attract workers motivated to help others. They are prosocial, the “do gooders.” People entering those fields want to heal, help, teach, develop impressionable minds, and see the good in others. While focused on the work, with their backs figuratively turned to the politics and abusers in the workplace, they bring a vulnerability to attack. Stereotypically, teachers and nurses are easily exploited targets. And like all targets, they only seek to be left alone to do the work they are paid to accomplish.

Bullying is endemic to nursing. Within the profession, bullying is referred to as “lateral or horizontal violence, suggesting nurse-on-nurse bullying. The mantra is “nurses eat their young.” Of course, studies show that physicians bully nurses, too. It is sad to think that bullying be considered so routine that it is normalized and no longer shocks the profession.

Bullying of teachers by other teachers and administrators is especially galling given the extraordinary attention paid to student bullying. How in the world can youngsters ever be persuaded to stop when they witness adult bullying in the schools? Adults are physically modeling the same acts they are verbally deploring. Actions speak louder than words. A teacher humiliated in front of students is robbed of her or his moral authority to manage the classroom effectively. And parents learn which teachers they can safely attack and demoralize by following the lead of administrators.

The third-ranked industry is public service — government. There the most significant problem is the quality of supervision. Few managers are adequately trained. Managers lacking the interpersonal skills of listening, coaching, effective training and caring for workers tend to supervise aggressively to mask their incompetence. Governments, with their starved budgets, first cut training to “save.” Unfortunately, the consequence is to inflict health-harming mistreatment on public sector workforce.

The diversity of survey respondents clarifies any misunderstanding that bullying is an affliction of blue collar workers only. Supervisors, middle managers and senior managers were also bullied (in the WBI 2010 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, 35% of bullied targets were these manager groups combined). With respect to education of targets, 32% had some college, 25% were college graduates, and 33% possess graduate degrees. These findings refute stereotypes about unsophisticated targets. Instead, the findings bolster our long-held contention that targets are selected because of the threat they pose to insecure, perhaps less educated, perpetrators.

In conclusion, our anecdotal experience with over 10,000 callers seeking advice from the Workplace Bullying Institute is backed by this 2013 study.

Gary Namie, PhD
Research Director, WBI
Assistance from Daniel Christensen

Do not use any of the above findings without properly citing the source as the Workplace Bullying Institute.

© 2013, WBI, All rights reserved.

Download the report in .pdf format.


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This entry was posted on Monday, December 2nd, 2013 at 3:00 am and is filed under 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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