Why workplace bullying goes underreported

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Bullying at work grinds victims down and make them an ‘easy target’ for further abuse, the findings showed.


Bullying at work deteriorates mental health of victims so much that they become anxious, leaving them less able to stand up for themselves and more vulnerable to further harassment, warns a study.

The research suggests that as workplace bullying is a vicious cycle, employers should not only crack down on workplace bullies, but also help victims gain the skills to cope with difficult situations.

india2“Examples of bullying at work include harassing, offending, or socially excluding someone repeatedly over a period of around six months,” pointed out Ana Sanz Vergel from the University of East Anglia in Britain.

“We found that being exposed to workplace bullying leads to deteriorated mental health and decreased well-being. But at the same time, showing anxious behaviour puts the victim in a weak position and makes them an easy target – leading to a spiral of abuse,” Sanz Vergel added.

The research team tested their theory on 348 Spanish employees. Participants were interviewed about their experiences of bullying and assessed for anxiety and vigour.

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“We are by no means victim-blaming here

Clearly employers need to have strong policies against workplace bullying. But training programmes to help victims learn coping mechanisms could help to break the vicious cycle,” Sanz Vergel said.

The study appeared in Anxiety, Stress & Coping: An International Journal.
Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device. IANS | Feb 18, 2015, 01.29 PM IST
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4 thoughts on “Why workplace bullying goes underreported

  1. Coping skills are good, but what if the employee is facing bullying from a majority of co-workers and not just one or two? Employers often take the position that all involved are adults and the victim should be the bigger person, not complain, and ignore the bullying. When it involves work responsibilities such as being notified and included in meetings, memos, etc., such bullying can be construed as directed towards painting the victim as unqualified to perform their job.

    The purpose of most forms of bullying is to harm, and employers must take the position that people should not be subjected to harm.

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