Workplace bullying has been a hot topic since the release of the 2007 Zogby survey, which showed that 49% of American workers report that they’ve been the target of a bully’s bad behavior. Employers have begun instituting tolerance training and implementing respectful-workplace policies. Awareness is key in preventing this prevalent workplace disease. One way to make top management place value on eliminating jerks at work is to talk dollars.
Bullying costs companies big money. Here are some of the ways that your bottom line is directly affected if you fail to eradicate bullying at work:
1. Targeted employees have higher absenteeism rates. Wouldn’t you? When the workplace becomes increasingly intolerable and unpleasant, people stop coming to work.
2. Decreased productivity. Those who do manage to get themselves into work are less productive. They’re nursing emotional wounds, meaning they’re more likely to hide in their office than dare engage with others at the risk of being put on the firing range. Stress-related illness is not conducive to high productivity, either. If you don’t feel well, you’re not putting your best efforts into your work.
3. High turnover. Replacing an employee can cost a business up to 3 times that employee’s yearly salary. And dedicated, enthusiastic employees are not easy to find. Yet, employees who are bullied at work will almost certainly leave. Some leave because of their health. Others leave because the bully has succeeded in sabotaging their reputation.
4. Unhealthy Employees Are Expensive. Employers have campaigned to rid the workplace of smokers, who are more costly to insure. Obese employees may be next on the list. But what about bullied employees? Targets are affected with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, which is especially common with male targets, and other stress-related illnesses. Physiological illnesses, such as headaches and backaches.
5. Infected-Workplace Syndrome. As devastating as these effects can be, they can, and likely will, get worse. Bullies are infectious and contagious. Other employees who witness bullying behavior feel sympathy for their coworkers and guilt for doing nothing about it. They shrivel up, just like the target, in the fear that the bully will turn his or her anger towards them next.