Survey shows one in three employees have experienced workplace bullying

Workplace bullying often flies under the radar as employees tolerate or fail to report it

Posted September 22, 2015

According to recent research from staffing firm OfficeTeam, about one in three (35 percent) workers surveyed admitted they've had an office bully. More than one-quarter (27 percent) of human resources (HR) managers interviewed said they think workplace bullying happens at least somewhat often at their company.

When employees were asked how they responded to a bully, 32 percent stated they confronted the person. Another 27 percent told their manager, and 17 percent did nothing.

Workers were asked, "Have you ever had an office bully?" Their responses:

very often 6%
somewhat often 21%
not very often 35%
never 38%

Workers who have had an office bully were also asked, "What did you do in response?" Their responses:

confronted the bully 32%
told my manager 27%
quit my job 13%
nothing 17%
other 11%

"Workplace bullying often flies under the radar because employees tolerate or fail to report it," said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Managers and staff alike should be supported in addressing bullying issues. This includes not giving anyone a pass for negative behavior, no matter how valued that person may be."

OfficeTeam offers five tips to help employees who are victims of workplace bullying:

  1. Take a stand. Avoid being an easy target. Bullies often back off if you show confidence and stick up for yourself.
  2. Talk it out. Have a one-on-one discussion with the bully, providing examples of behaviors that made you feel uncomfortable. It's possible the person is unaware of how his or her actions are negatively affecting others.
  3. Keep your cool. As tempting as it is to go tit-for-tat, don't stoop to the bully's level. Stay calm and professional.
  4. Document poor conduct. Maintain a record of instances of workplace bullying, detailing what was said or done by the individual.
  5. Seek support. If the issue is serious or you aren't able to resolve it on your own, alert your manager or HR department for assistance.

About the Research

The surveys of workers and HR managers were developed by OfficeTeam. They were conducted by an independent research firm and include responses from more than 300 U.S. workers 18 years or older and employed in office environments, and more than 300 HR managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

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