Bullying at work – the total cost – financial and societal Part 2 of 2

Outside the financial costs, the personal costs are also of major concern to health-care professionals. Treatments for depression, stress, heart conditions, ulcers, other forms of gastric and intestinal stress, PTSD, internal trauma, alcohol abuse and drug abuse. The physical, emotional and mental abuse of families and friends. Other mental illnesses including paranoia and schizophrenia are common as is bi-polar disorder. In extreme cases, severe and unrestricted violence against themselves – including suicide and against others including events such as robberies, assault and in some cases and situations, even murder. These are all potential consequences to society that result from bullying. Is it really worth it? Bullying tears families and communities apart and it is preventable. Are you part of the problem or part of the cure?

“If you turn and face the other way when someone is being bullied, you might as well be the bully too.” ~Unknown

Inside family units, bullying is a well known, if very well hidden issue. Yes, we hear about parents abusing and bullying children but we don’t hear as often about siblings bullying or abusing each other – and it is not always the older child bullying younger one – I know of several cases where the reverse is true. There is no “typical” situation, which makes it tough to help the victims and educate the perpetrators or provide punishment as appropriate. Please remember, not all abuse is physical – the hidden damage of emotional and mental abuse is very often hard to identify and treat. Victims of emotional and mental abuse sometimes even appear to live outwardly “normal” lives, but on the inside are ready to explode with sometimes terrifying consequences to themselves and others – most often directly impacting those closest to them.

“By being a bully, you show everyone what an inferior coward you are.” ~Unknown

Psychologists, psychiatrists, family medical care providers and counsellors all deal with the effects on a daily basis. Unfortunately, law enforcement and other first responders see the consequences when no intervention or support has been provided. Healthcare practitioners and paramedical professionals have long known that bullies act out of feelings of inadequacy, jealousy and fear but the driving forces behind those issues are very challenging to define. They tend to use the bluster, self-aggrandisement and brash behaviours to cover their feelings – they are actually crying for help but too often that cry goes unheard until the damage has been done to one or more other people in their lives.

I have included several quotes in this article that can provide a starting point for readers to consider this issue. I suggest that to one extent or another, everyone’s lives have, are or will be affected by some form of bullying and/or related abuse. Can we do anything less than exert our best efforts to eradicate it from our lives?

“Respect – simple respect. I expect nothing more and I will accept nothing less.” From the Emmy Winning Series MASH – Margaret Houlihan talking to Hawkeye Pierce.

In closing, please think about the words of the famous song by Aretha Franklin:
“R – E – S – P – E – C – T”

These are but a very few links to sites that offer information on workplace bullying, abuse and violence. I urge you to use these and other resources to help yourself and others.

http://www.bullyingcanada.ca/index.php

http://bullyinworkplace.com/

http://www.bullyonline.org/

http://www.workplaceviolence.ca/

Bullying at work – the total cost – financial and societal Part 1 of 2

“Courage is fire and bullying is smoke.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli. For non-history buffs, Benjamin Disraeli was one of England’s most important Prime Ministers and noted around the world for his oratorical skills and his strong beliefs – and I subscribe completely to his perspective.

This article is a very large challenge for me to write. Unfortunately, I know first-hand of what he speaks from school, to various work locations and elsewhere – you can check out a blog I did by clicking on this link (http://money.ca/you_and_your_money/ian-r-whiting/) and go back to early October 2012. Recognition of bullying against children is coming to the fore and many new programs are being developed to help the victims and to re-educate, and as necessary, ensure there are severe consequences to the bullies.

What about bullying at work? Does it happen – absolutely and I had the misfortune to experience some of that too – but don’t feel for sorry for me – it simply made me more determined than ever to succeed – and I did!

“Bullies need to make others feel insecure because they are insecure.” ~Unknown

At work, it takes many forms – this is not an exhaustive list but simply representative:
a) verbal abuse such as public pressure to swearing, name calling and public belittling;
b) standing too close in a threatening manner or throwing objects while displaying aggressive behaviour and a speaking or shouting in a loud voice;
c) emotional abuse often takes the form of undermining a co-worker’s results, efforts, resulting work and their professional or business credibility and can lead to keeping track of and reporting every minor mistake or error;
d) character abuse often comes from “water-cooler” or “lunch-room” gossip, lying about another someone else or deliberately damaging their reputation; and
e) professional abuse through actions such as continually finding fault with their work in public forums, talking over them at meetings or ignoring their input.

Bullying is a lack of respect. It is often obvious – as you can see from the previous points, but it’s more subtle forms often cause more damage. It is responsible for increased absenteeism, a lack of workplace motivation, poor performance, employee dissatisfaction, increased turnover and a lack of trust together with the absence of team building with other workers. The financial effects of these consequences are enormous. Productivity always drops. As a result of the pressure on the abused employee, increased error rates are inevitable, work has to be re-done and even the non-abused staff are faced with negative consequences. All of this results in higher costs for the same end result – more sick-time, absenteeism, more stress-related health benefit claims. Added up across Canada, the cost is several billion dollars according to several studies. That cost is passed on to everyone – we all pay.

“Only cowards are bullies.” ~Unknown. It causes substantial damage to self-esteem and the ability to contribute at work. It can also be responsible for depression, physical illness and severe trauma and is some cases PTSD. Bullying is never acceptable in the workplace – or anywhere for that matter.