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Key Findings of a 2/28/12 Survey by The Society for Human Resource and Management:

  • Are organizations experiencing workplace bullying? About one-half  (51%) of organizations reported that there had been incidents of bullying in their workplace. Compared with two years ago, most organizations indicated that incidents of bullying had either stayed the same (48%) or decreased in frequency (34%), while 18% reported an increase in frequency of bullying.
  • Which bullying behaviors are most common? Among organizations that experienced incidents of bullying, nearly three-quarters (73%) reported verbal abuse, three out of five (62%) reported malicious gossiping and/or spreading lies/rumors about workers, and one-half (50%) reported threats or intimidation.
  • Do HR professionals experience bullying? About one-quarter (27%) of HR professionals reported having been bullied in the workplace. Of those who had been bullied, more than one-half (57%) had reported their experiences to someone in the organization.
  • What are the outcomes of workplace bullying? The three most common outcomes of bullying incidents that organizations experienced were decreased morale (68%), increased stress and/or depression levels (48%) and decreased trust among co-workers (45%).


April 20, 2011 – A  CareerBuilder survey   of 5,671 U.S. workers reveals that more than one in four (27 percent) workers have felt bullied in the workplace, with the majority neither confronting nor reporting the bully.

The most common bully? The boss. According to survey results, 14 percent of workers felt bullied by their immediate supervisor, while 11 percent felt bullied by a co-worker.  Seven percent said the bully was not their boss but someone else higher up in the organization, while another 7 percent said the bully was their customer.

Additional survey results:

– Women reported a higher incidence of being treated unfairly at the office.  One-third (34 percent) of women said they have felt bullied in the workplace, compared to 22 percent of men. Of course, this doesn’t mean fewer men are bullied, necessarily — just that fewer men report it. And, according to research by organizational behavior and leadership expert Denise Salin, women are more likely than men to self-label as a target of bullying.

– Workers ages 35 to 44 were the least likely to report feeling bullied, with only one in four doing so … .

When asked to describe how they were bullied, workers pointed to the following examples:

My comments were dismissed or not acknowledged (43 percent).
I was falsely accused of mistakes I didn’t make (40 percent).
I was harshly criticized (38 percent).
I was forced into doing work that really wasn’t my job (38 percent).
Different standards and policies were used for me than other workers (37 percent).
I was given mean looks (31 percent).
Others gossiped about me (27 percent).
My boss yelled at me in front of other co-workers (24 percent).
Belittling comments were made about my work during meetings (23 percent).
Someone else stole credit for my work (21 percent).

 What are companies doing to combat this workplace bullying?

Twenty-eight percent of workers who were bullied brought the situation to a higher authority by reporting the bully to their Human Resources department. While 38 percent of these workers stated that measures were taken to investigate and resolve the situation, the majority of workers (62 percent) said no action was taken.

According to Career Builder:

“…. workplace bullying …  seems to be prevalent in organizations that support, accept or allow such behavior, or where employees feel that they can “get away with it” or where it is accepted as part of a “tough” climate.” Even worse, new employees and managers can become socialized into treating bullying as a normal feature of working life.”


 The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) commissioned Zogby International to collect data for its 2010 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.  Two surveys were conducted for this report: one with several items that had 4,210 survey respondents and one single-item survey that had 2,092 respondents Each sample was representative of all American adults in August 2010. The results:

-35% of workers have experienced bullying firsthand;

-62% of bullies are men;

-58% of targets are women;

-Women bullies target women in 80% of cases;

-Bullying at work is four times more prevalent than illegal harassment (2007);

-Same-gender harassment accounts for more than two thirds (68%) of bullying.

In addition to the 35% or  estimated 53.5 million Americans who are bullied at work, another 15% say they have witnessed it happen to someone else. Half of all workers report neither experiencing nor witnessing bullying.


A  nationwide poll by the Employment Law Alliance conducted in 2007 found that  nearly 45 percent of American workers say they have experienced workplace abuse. Highlights of the poll include:

– 44 percent of employees said they have worked for a supervisor or employer who they consider abusive.

– More than half of American workers have been the victim of, or heard about supervisors/employer’s behaving abusively by making sarcastic jokes/teasing remarks, rudely interrupting, publicly criticizing, giving dirty looks to, or yelling at subordinates, or ignoring them as if they were invisible.

– 64 percent said that they believe an abused worker should have the right to sue to recover damages.

The poll, conducted under the supervision of Dr. Theodore Reed, president of the Philadelphia-based Reed Group, was based on a survey of a representative sample of 1,000 American adults within the past two weeks. Detailed interviews were conducted with 534 full- or part-time workers.

In reacting to the poll results, Dr. Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering, and Co-Director of the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization said, “This national survey adds to the growing mountain of evidence showing that abuse of power is a rampant problem in the American workplace. It is time for senior management to realize that this conduct damages their people and is costing them a fortune. Demeaned workers respond with a reduced commitment and loss of productivity, and they run for the exits to find more humane bosses. And these costs will keep escalating as more victims realize that they can fight back in court.”

* The Employment Law Alliance is the largest international network of employment lawyers.

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