>> Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying


Workplace bullying refers to repeated, unreasonable actions and behavior directed at an individual or group with the primary intention of threatening, degrading, or humiliating them. It is an act of misuse of power or position by one or more individuals against another, leading to a hostile work environment. Bullying behavior makes the targeted person defenseless and undermines an individual’s right to dignity at work. Bullies can be supervisors, subordinates, and colleagues. They often operate within the established rules and policies of their organization.

Following are some examples of repeated behaviors that constitute bullying:

  • Isolating employees from opportunities and interaction with others.
  • Giving undue pressure and stress and making employees overwork.
  • Making unreasonable demands.
  • Deliberately insulting others.
  • Expressing aggression through emails.
  • Stealing credit for others’ work.
  • Blaming others without any justification.
  • Swearing and yelling at employees.
  • Undermining employees by criticizing their work and not giving them their due credit.

Impact of Workplace Bullying

The impact that workplace bullying brings can be equally profound and multifaceted, and it can affect both individuals and organizations. The following are the key impacts:

  • Psychological effects: Workplace bullying increases levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues for the victims. They become emotionally scarred, which erodes their confidence, self-esteem, and well-being.
  • Physical Health: The stress and anxiety that bullying causes victims can also manifest physically, contributing to symptoms of headaches, insomnia, digestive problems, and cardiovascular issues. Continuous exposure to stress weakens the immune system, making individuals prone to illness.
  • Productivity and Performance: The hostile environment resulting from bullying makes victims struggle to concentrate, make decisions, or perform their duties effectively. Consequently, it decreases productivity levels and reduces organizational performance.
  • Employee Turnover: Victims of workplace bullying may choose to leave their jobs to escape the toxic environment. This increases employee turnover.
  • Reputation and culture: Workplace bullying tarnishes the organization’s reputation and damages its culture and values. It creates fear, distrust, and disengagement among employees, hindering collaboration, innovation, and teamwork.
  • Legal and financial consequences: Organizations that fail to address workplace bullying may face legal action, including lawsuits for harassment, discrimination, or negligence. Legal battles can become hefty, given the cost they incur in terms of legal fees, settlements, and damage to the organization’s reputation.
  • Morale and engagement: Workplace bullying can negatively impact the morale and engagement of all employees, not only the victims. It creates a toxic atmosphere of fear and insecurity, decreasing job satisfaction, motivation, and loyalty.

Why is ‘Workplace Bullying’ Important to HRs

HRs play a significant role in tackling workplace bullying in the best possible manner, taking necessary measures to mitigate it. HRs can address workplace bullying and prevent talented employees from leaving the organization due to toxic work environments.

They need to ensure that the organization complies with labor laws and regulations related to workplace safety and harassment. HRs are responsible for shaping and maintaining a positive inclusive culture that gets impacted by workplace bullying. A prompt response to workplace bullying by HRs can reduce the risk of legal action, reputational damage, and loss of productivity associated with such behavior.