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Consequences of Workplace Bullying

Consequences of Workplace Bullying


People are assets to be invested in, and when they break down so does efficiency, loyalty, quality, and customer service. When people are excited about their jobs and enjoy the people they work with, you have a self-sustaining system that reinforces performance and gives you the competitive advantage.

According to scholars at The Project for Wellness and Work-Life atArizonaStateUniversity, “workplace bullying is linked to a host of physical, psychological, organizational, and social costs.” Stress is the most predominant health effect associated with bullying in the workplace. Research indicates that workplace stress has significant negative effects that are correlated to poor mental health and poor physical health, resulting in an increase in the use of “sick days” or time off from work(Farrell & Geist-Martin, 2005)

How can bullying affect an individual?

People who are the targets of bullying may experience a range of effects. These reactions include:

  • Anger
  • Family tension and stress
  • Feelings of frustration and/or helplessness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Increased sense of vulnerability
  • Loss of confidence
  • Low morale and productivity
  • Panic or anxiety, especially about going to work
  • Physical symptoms such as
  • Inability to sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Psychosomatic symptoms such as
  • Stomach pains
  • Headaches
  • Shock

How can bullying affect the workplace?

Workplace bullying may cause extensive health problems for employees exposed to this hazard, including physical and psychological illnesses and injuries. It can impact on co-workers, clients, customers, business associates, family and friends. Bullying affects the overall “health” of an organization.

The costs to the organizations include reduced efficiency, unsafe work environment, increased absenteeism, poor morale, increased workers compensation claims and civil action. An “unhealthy” workplace can have many effects. The reaction of individual employees will vary according to the nature of the bullying. It is possible that employees who are bullied may experience some of the following effects:

·         Decreased morale

·         Decreased productivity and motivation

Incapacity to work, concentration problems, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem or reduced output and performance

Depression or a sense of isolation

·         Increased absenteeism

·         Increased costs for employee assistance programs (EAPs), recruitment, etc.

·         Increased stress

·         Increased turnover

·         Increased risk for accidents / incidents

Panic attacks or impaired ability to make decisions

Physical injury

·         Poorer customer service

·         Reduced corporate image and customer confidence

Reduced quality of home and family life

Stress, anxiety or sleep disturbance


A positive and civil place to work reaps the following types of benefits

·         Attract better talent

·         Develop a culture that values internal relationships and invests in employee individual success

·         Gain market share and earn higher revenue than competitors

·         Increase employee retention and reduce turnover

·         Increase the quality and quantity of work product

·         Improve communication among staff and managers

·         Improve health of employees and your organization

·         Look forward to coming to work and know your staff is looking forward to coming to work

·         Minimize workplace politics

·         Motivate, inspire and develop engaged employees

·         Obtain better performance results than an employee evaluation or disciplinary procedure Protect your company’s reputation and even obtain positive press about your workplace practices

·         Prove you are dedicated to providing a safe and healthy work environment for your

·         employees

·         Reduce absenteeism and medical leaves

·         Reduce workers comp claims and minimize litigation

·         Reduce workplace stress

·         Stop wasting time on employees who are dragging down the rest

Just because bullying isn’t obvious in your workplace doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Workplace bullying is often subtle. The following suggestions can help you identify bullying behaviour:

  • Analyze absenteeism, productivity, turnover, stress-related leaves and early retirement—does a pattern emerge that suggests problems in a specific area?
  • Conduct confidential exit interviews and employee opinion surveys that ask direct questions about bullying. Watch for signs of discontent or lack of motivation. Pay attention to similar information coming from several sources, including employees, clients, colleagues, etc.
  • Look at your organization’s culture, structure and management style. Strong hierarchical structures and intense business demands can foster bullying.

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