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May 10, 2021

Is there a bully in your workplace?

Here are three of history’s most famous bullies. One. Two. Three.

101233_whos_the_boss Each are apparent in their methods, and one (Contestant no. 2) has even tried to take down an entire religious holiday. But all bullying isn’t so obvious, and some forms don’t just result in black eyes and hurt feelings.

Workplace bullying is one of the lesser-reported behavioural patterns – “North America’s silent epidemic,” by one recent headline – and, as it turns out, is much more costly than we know.

By two surveys quoted recently in the Financial Post, 35 per cent of our continent’s workforce admits to having experienced workplace bullying first-hand, with the “vast majority” of infractions being committed by higher-ranking employees – managers, supervisors and executives.

According to the polls, about 62 per cent of so-called workplace bullies are men.

While bullying has no explicit definition – we often know it when we see it – market researchers Zogby International classifies its workplace incarnation as “repeated mistreatment: sabotage by others that prevented work from getting done, verbal abuse, threatening conduct, intimidation and humiliation.” One study showed workers stressed by bullying performed 50 per cent worse on cognitive tests while on the job.

The big figure here, though, is this. Such decreased production leads to major financial costs to employers; the pitfalls of workplace bullying have been pegged as high as $200 billion annually.

What’s worse, the Post’s Ray Williams notes, the recession may have exacerbated the workplace bullying problem. Conventional wisdom suggests bullying tactics can spur short-term production, so such cases are often tolerated. In the era of layoffs and quarterly targets, if numbers are right, employers may not be able – or are too pressured otherwise – to see much past the bottom line.

And given that, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 40 per cent of victims never told their boss and, of those that did, 62 per cent said they were ignored, who can say if workplace bullying will ever improve?

Is there a bully in your office? How does he or she hamper productivity?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Follow Jason on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...