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More Workers Feeling Bullied on the Job: Survey

A total of 35 percent of workers said they have felt bullied at work, compared with the 27 percent who made such a report a year ago.

August 30, 2012
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More workers are feeling bullied in the workplace, according to a study released by CareerBuilder L.L.C.

A total of 35 percent of workers said they have felt bullied at work, compared with the 27 percent who made such a report a year ago, according to the online survey of 3,892 employees conducted between May 14 and June 4 of this year and released August 29.

Among workers who felt bullied, 48 percent pointed to incidents with their bosses; 45 percent pointed to their co-workers; 31 percent pointed to customers, and 26 percent pointed to someone higher up in the company other than their boss, according to the survey. Fifty-four percent said they had been bullied by someone older than they were.

The most common way workers said they were bullied was by getting blamed for mistakes they did not make, which was cited by 42 percent, followed by being ignored, cited by 39 percent. Thirty-six percent said different standards or policies had been applied to them compared with other workers, and 33 percent said they were constantly criticized.

Almost half, or 49 percent, of workers said they confronted the bullies themselves. Of these, 50 percent said the bullying stopped, 11 percent said it got worse, and 38 percent said there was no change.

Of the 27 percent who reported the bullying to their human resources department, 57 percent said nothing was done.

Commenting on the results, Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at Chicago-based CareerBuilder, said in a statement, "How workers define bullying can vary considerably, but it is often tied to patterns of unfair treatment. Bullying can have a significant impact on both individual and company performance. It's important to cite specific incidents when addressing the situation with the bully or a company authority and keep focused on finding a resolution."

Catherine Mattice, president of San Diego-based human resources consultancy Civility Partners L.L.C., has warned that although bullying behavior is not an enforceable action under state or federal employment statutes, employers and individuals ultimately can be held liable for actions related to workplace bullying complaints.

A CareerBuilder spokesman said copies of the survey are not being made available.

Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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