“If you have ever worked in a team setting before, then chances are you have either worked with, for, or alongside a “workplace bully.” But what exactly is the difference between a workplace bully and just a mean boss or a difficult coworker?
A workplace bully doesn’t just yell at you for making a mistake, he/she yells at you in front of the rest of your team, whether you made a mistake or not. A workplace bully doesn’t just pick on you. A workplace bully goes further than that – singling you out, mentally manipulating you, and isolating you from the rest of the group. A workplace bully doesn’t just make going to work a little worse – a workplace bully makes you dread going into the office everyday and keeps you up in anticipation of the oncoming terror.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, “bullying is a systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction that jeopardizes your health, your career, the job you once loved.” It likens the situation to an abusive spouse, saying that it “is akin to domestic violence at work, where the abuser is on the payroll.”
It identifies three general forms:
(1) verbal abuse
(2) offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
(3) work interference – sabotage – which prevents work from getting done.
And according to the Institute, 35% of the U.S. workforce, or 53.5 million Americans, report being bullied at work.
Here in the U.S., we talk about all sorts of bullying problems – but usually in the context of children. Lady Gaga has established a foundation to empower victims of bullying, the Born This Way Foundation, and has dedicated her tour bus to the cause as well. Even the President of the United States has spoken out against bullying. Both rightfully recognize bullying as being traumatic for the victim and often leading to terrible, devastating consequences. As technology has evolved, so have the bully tactics: cyberbullying continues to be a vexing problem – and one that is only getting worse. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 85% of kids are affected by cyberbullying today – up from 6 percent in 2000. Legislators have tried to solve the problem with new laws, but because of our country’s strong founding principle of freedom of speech, that is turning out to be harder than many had expected or hoped.
But all of these efforts by leaders and lawmakers target only child bullies. What about the adult bullies living freely amongst us? These men and women torment and harass their coworkers, but because they are in a workplace, in what is supposed to be an adult situation, there is no principal to run to, no parent to be a disciplinarian. More often than not, the victim is too ashamed to bring attention to the problem, and ends up leaving their job – sometimes voluntarily but not always.
Can anything be done about this problem at the macro level? Or is it up to individual employers to spot and stop this destructive behavior? Does government have a role to play in these scenarios?…”
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“Government employees experienced a rate of nonfatal workplace violence that was more than three times the rate for private-sector employees during 2011, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. Local, county, state and federal government employees experienced 18.0 nonfatal violent victimizations in the workplace per 1,000 employees age 16 or older, compared to 5.2 nonfatal violent victimizations per 1,000 private-sector employees.
The higher rate of workplace violence in the public sector was due in part to the high rate of violence against government employees in law enforcement or security. About 56 percent of workplace violence against government employees occurred against law enforcement and security personnel during 2002 through 2011. In both the public and private sectors, law enforcement and security personnel experienced the highest annual average rates of workplace violence.
Excluding law enforcement and security employees, the 2011 rate of workplace violence against government employees was still higher than that against private-sector employees. Government employees reported 8.7 violent victimizations per 1,000 employees, compared to 4.7 violent victimizations per 1,000 employees in the private sector.
Serious violent crime (rape, sexual assault, robbery or aggravated assault) accounted for a larger percentage of workplace violence against private-sector employees (25 percent) than government employees (15 percent) from 2002 to 2011. However, government employees experienced three times more simple assault than those in the private sector.
About 1 in 5 victims of workplace homicide was a government employee in 2011. During that year, the private sector experienced 367 homicides in the workplace, compared to 90 homicides for government employees.
Rates of workplace violence have declined substantially in both the public and private sectors. The annual average rate of violence against government employees declined 82 percent from 1994 to 2011, compared to a 72 percent decline in the private sector.
Among other findings from 2002 to 2011:
- Although government employees accounted for 16 percent of all employed people age 16 or older, they made up 41 percent of victims of nonfatal workplace violence.
- Among government employees, males (68 percent) were more likely than females (38 percent) to face a stranger during an incident in the workplace.
- Government employee s (12 percent) were less likely than private – sector employees (20 percent) to face an offender with a weapon during an incident.
- Government and private – sector employees were equally likely to be injured due to workplace violence.
Findings in this report on nonfatal violence against government employees in the workplace are based on data from the BJS National Crime Victimization Survey. Findings on workplace homicide are based on…”
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