Are Bullies Beating Up Your Employees’ Health?

As a Tennessee appellate court noted in rejecting Joan Frye’s lawsuit against her hospital employer, “[T]he fact that a supervisor is mean, hard to get along with, overbearing, bellig­erent or otherwise hostile and abusive does not violate civil rights statutes.”
Workplace Bullying is a current hot topic in the business world. There are lots of theories about how bullying costs employer real dollars and cents in a variety of ways. From, here is another potential cost–employees’ health.

Given the rapidly increasing cost of health insurance, this theory gives businesses another reason to put a stop to bullying behavior. reports:

When it comes to employee health, bullying is bad for business.

Workplace bullying can create a cache of health problems for workers who feel overburdened by stress, said Gregg Brewer, employee assistance program supervisor for IntegNET, a division of Agnesian HealthCare.

Employee Assistance Programs are designed to prevent workplace bullying and solve conflicts that arise at work, among other things.

Brewer said someone who is being bullied at work is often under a tremendous amount of pressure.

“It leads to stress,” he said. “And generally people who are under a lot of stress have 45 percent higher health- care costs.”

Physical signs of stress include rapid breathing, fatigue, sleep and appetite changes, Brewer said. Emotional symptoms can include anger, irritability and forgetfulness and cause employees to have a hard time concentrating at work.

These stress symptoms can lead to changes in productivity and interaction with co-workers and lower morale, Brewer said.

More serious health problems have also been linked to stress.

“There is a strong connection between stress and cardiovascular issues,” Brewer said.

Stress can cause blood pressure to increase and can lead to strokes and other heart problems, he said.

Brewer said it might also lead employees struggling to cope to drugs and alcohol.

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