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Bullying in the Workplace Grows

bullying . / Credit: Office Bully via Shutterstock

The number of bullies isn't just increasing in schools. New research shows it's also on the rise around the office.

A study by CareerBuilder revealed that 35 percent of employees have been bullied at work, up from 27 percent a year ago. Of those, 16 percent suffered health-related problems as a result of bullying, while 17 percent ended up quitting their jobs to escape the situation.

Getting blamed for mistakes they didn't make, not getting proper acknowledgment and being the victim of double standards were the most common ways employees were bullied, according to the survey.  Other ways they were picked on around the office include:

  • Being constantly criticized
  • Having work negatively affected because others didn't perform their duties
  • Being yelled at by a boss in front of co-workers
  • Having belittling comments made about their work during meetings
  • Gossiped about
  • Having someone steal credit for their work
  • Being purposely excluded from projects or meetings
  • Being picked on for personal attributes

"How workers define bullying can vary considerably, but it is often tied to patterns of unfair treatment," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.  "Bullying can have a significant impact on both individual and company performance."

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Of workers who felt bullied, the study found that most pointed to incidents with their bosses or co-workers, while a smaller percentage were harassed by customers or someone higher up in the company other than their manager.

Despite the negative consequences that can come from being bullied, more than half of those surveyed don't confront their tormenters or report the incident. Of those who did confront the bully, half said the behavior stopped, while 11 percent said it got worse.

Haefner offers several tips for employees feeling bullied in the workplace:

  • Keep record of all incidents of bullying, documenting places, times, what happened and who was present.
  • Consider talking to the bully, providing examples of how you felt treated unfairly.  Chances are the bully may not be aware of the way you feel.
  • Always focus on resolution.  When sharing examples with the bully or a company authority, center the discussions on how to make the working situation better or how things could be handled differently.

"It's important to cite specific incidents when addressing the situation with the bully or a company authority and keep focused on finding a resolution," Haefner said.

The study was based on surveys of nearly 3,900 full-time U.S. employees.

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.