Those who witness workplace bullying are more likely to quit than those who experience it firsthand, according to new research.
The University of British Columbia study revealed that victims of office bullying aren't the only ones bearing the brunt of the mistreatment.
"Our findings show that people across an organization experience a moral indignation when others are bullied that can make them want to leave in protest," said professor Sandra Robinson, the study's co-author.
The study was based on surveys of more than 350 Canadian nurses that used a series of questions to assess the level of bullying in each nursing unit, as well as the individual bullying experiences.
The researchers then assessed the nurses' intentions to leave their positions in units where bullying was pervasive.
The findings show that those who experience bullying, either directly or indirectly, had a greater desire to quit their jobs than those who didn't. However, the results also indicate that people who experienced bullying as bystanders wanted to quit in even greater numbers.
Robinson warns that even if employees stay on the job, a business's productivity can suffer severely when staff members have an unrealized desire to leave.
"Managers need to be aware that the behavior is pervasive and it can have a mushrooming effect that goes well beyond the victims," Robinson said. "Ultimately, bullies can hurt the bottom line and need to be dealt with quickly and publicly so that justice is restored to the workplace."
The study was published in the current edition of the journal Human Relations.