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America’s Workplace Bullying Epidemic

By on May 17, 2011 in Office Workers

Ray Williams writes in the Financial Post that workplace bullying has become a “silent epidemic in North America,” one with considerable cost to employee wellbeing and also productivity. Recent research confirms both the ubiquity of workplace bullying and the severity of its impact.

Surveys by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) and Zogby International found that 35 percent of workers experienced bullying first hand. The WBI found that while bullies can occupy any rank within organisations, the majority of the perpetrators are bosses: managers, supervisors and executives.

One study found that workers stressed by bullying performed 50 percent worse on cognitive test. Estimates of the financial costs of bullying can be as high as $200 billion a year.

A Swedish study of over 3,100 men over a ten-year period in typical work settings found that employees who had managers who were “incompetent, inconsiderate, secretive and uncommunicative” were 60 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or other life-threatening heart condition. Meanwhile, a study of 6,000 British office workers who felt that their supervisors treated them fairly had a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease.


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