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Bullies Still in the Workplace

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Thu Sep 20 2012

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(From Human Resource Executive Online) -- Despite heightened coverage by the news media and ongoing efforts to inform and educate employees about inappropriate behaviors and their consequences, workers are increasingly reporting that they are bullied at work, according to a new study by Chicago-based CareerBuilder.

In fact, 35 percent of the respondents to their 2012 study on bullying said that they had felt bullied at work -- up from 27 percent in 2011. Sixteen percent indicated that they had suffered health-related problems as a result of being bullied; 17 percent decided to quit their jobs to escape the bullying.

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Organizations that are ineffective at addressing bullying may be subject to lost productivity, the loss of valued employees who do not feel safe in the workplace, and even the risk of lawsuits and legal liability for their failure to properly address these issues.

"I think that the incidences of workplace bullying are on the rise for several reasons," says Tina Hamilton, president and CEO of hireVision Group Inc. in Allentown, Pa. "People in general are worried about their financial situations and job security, and that can manifest itself at work in aggressive or defensive behaviors. Companies are also getting by with smaller workforces, so naturally tensions can flair, bringing out the worst in some people. Lastly, our society as a whole has become more belligerent over the last few years, so we are bound to see some related negative behaviors show up in the workplace," she says.

It is possible that the increase is more reflective of heightened awareness than an actual increase in incidents, says Khaleelah Jones, a research and communications specialist with the Project Bully Free Zone in New York.

"Not only are reports rising because individuals are starting to feel more confident about reporting incidents, what with the increased media attention to the matter," she says, "individuals are able to identify workplace bullying more easily with the increase in programming and education about it."

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