Workplace Bullying: a Destroyer of Organizations

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  • Topic: Abuse, Bullying, Workplace bullying
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Workplace Bullying: A Destroyer of Organizations
Introduction
Workplace Bullying is a rather new name for an old problem. WPB goes by other names including workplace aggression, abuse, harassment (Martin, W., & LaVan, H. 2010), mobbing, victimization, violence, emotional abuse in the workplace, and antisocial work behaviors (Matthiesen S, Einarsen S., 2010). While there are slight differences between the problems just mentioned, the organizational outcome is the same. There is a hefty expense to the targets and the organization that these things happen in. This phenomena is not just an issue in the United States alone, it is a global problem and is seen throughout industrialized countries.

Unfortunately there is no universally accepted definition of WPB so it is difficult to know the actual incidence rates and if they are increasing or decreasing (Martin, W., & LaVan, H. 2010). According to Roscigno, Lopez, and Hodson, (2009) research shows that each year as many as 10% to 20% of employees are subjected to WPB (Roscigno, V. J., Lopez, S. H., & Hodson, R., 2009) while Martin and LaVan, (2010) contend that “there is no generally agreed upon prevalence statistic” (Martin, W., & LaVan, H. 2010). While workplace violence can affect employees, managers, customers, visitors, family members of the employed and others, this paper covers just the bullying that goes on between workers (including supervisors and subordinates) of an organization. Many studies have attempted to estimate the causes, effects and costs to organizations. This paper will cover some of the findings in these areas. Of course a paper on WPB would not be complete without some statistics. Definition

The combined definition of workplace violence (WPV) from OSHA (OSHA, 2002) (OSHA, 2012), Gale Encyclopedia of Small Business ("Gale encyclopedia of,"), the State of Wisconsin Department of Administration (State of Wisconsin Department of Administration, 2003) and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) ("Bullying in the," 2005) is violence or the threat of violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site and causes physical or emotional harm to customers, visitors, coworkers, or managers. It can include: threats or threatening behavior, verbal abuse, physical assaults, homicide, harassment, intimidation, acts of aggression, theft, stalking, arson, sabotage, bombing, hostage taking, kidnapping, extortion, suicide, abuse, shaking of fists, destroying property, throwing objects, pranks, psychological trauma or any expression of intent to inflict harm. Any behavior that demeans, embarrasses, humiliates, annoys, alarms or verbally abuses a person is workplace violence. This includes words, gestures, intimidation, bullying, swearing, insults, condescending language, spreading rumors, arguments or any other inappropriate activities. It can even escalate to physical attacks such as hitting, shoving, pushing, kicking, rape, arson and murder.

Workplace Bullying Institute defines WPB as “… repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators…” It further highlights the forms it takes as verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating) and work interference such as sabotage which prevents work from getting done (Workplace Bullying Institute, 2012). Salin’s definition is “…repeated and persistent negative acts towards one or more individual(s) which involve a perceived power imbalance and create a hostile work environment. Bullying is thus a form of interpersonal aggression or hostile, anti-social behavior in the workplace” (Salin, 2003. p.1214). The History of WPB

While doing a search on the internet for the history of abuse in the workplace will tell you that it began in the 1980’s with the postal shootings, a deeper look in the past will show abuse of employers and...
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