Workplace Bullying Challenges

Bullying is not just something that happens with kids on the playground. It is a growing epidemic that elbows its way into workplaces causing a negative ripple effect throughout the organization. It can happen to anyone in any workplace regardless of rank or level.

The number of Americans affected by this issue is staggering.

“An online survey of 7,740 employees conducted by the WBI estimated that 37% of American workers, 54 million people have been bullied”

If you include coworker bystanders that witness bullying then nearly half of all US employees are affected by a workplace bully. Additionally, 20% of witnesses of bullying will resign because of a workplace bully.

Organizations have the ability to fight back against workplace bullying by first acknowledging that is taking place in their company, creating anti-bullying policies and offering preventative measures against future incidences. Companies can be successful in minimizing the negative impact felt by all parties affected by this issue and as a result foster higher productivity and camaraderie among their workforce.

It is estimated that one in six workers in the U.S. is bullied and that bullying in the workplace is four times more common than illegal harassment. Bullying in the workplace is detrimental to individuals and costly to organizations.

Organizations with Policies to Prevent Bullying

WBI Bullying Graph

Image Source: WBI


Bullying differs from harassment, which is an illegal form of discrimination, unless the bullying references certain characteristics of an individual such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and disability to name a few. The most common forms of bullying are very subtle but tend to increase in severity and frequency over time. It is not usually recognized until it is prolonged and begins to have a seriously negative impact on the individual and the organization.


Targets of workplace bullying can suffer emotionally and physically by having an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, anxiety and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and in extreme situations commit suicide.


Companies feel the ripple effect of this phenomenon through the victim’s lessened productivity, absenteeism, and higher employee turnover. Bottom lines can suffer when organizations are forced to dedicate time and resources for investigations of complaints to remedy the issue to avoid potential litigation by the victim and/or the perpetrator. Company culture, employee morale and organizational reputation also can take a hit from a bully, which hurt employee retention and future recruitment efforts. Bullies not only harm the individuals they target, but cause major negative financial implications to their employers. When an organization is managed by bullies the damage to its reputation can scare away potential talent and hurt investor confidence.

It is estimated that organizations lose $30,000 to $100,000 annually for each incidence of bullying between turnover, healthcare costs, and litigation.

Guidelines for Developing Policies to Mitigate Bullying

  1. The first step in this process is to implement an anti-bullying policy supported by management and carried out through HR.
  2. A simple reporting procedure for filed complaints needs to be outlined that encourages all employees to report bullying whether they experience or witness it
  3. Subsequent, there can be a contract to be signed by all employees acknowledging and agreeing to abide by this policy.
  4. Interactive training that is simple to administer and effective in educating an organization’s employees is a great resource for preventing bullying in the workplace.
    • Policy listed in the Employee Handbook
    • Offers a Company definition of Bullying
    • Provides guidelines to investigate a complaint
    • Lists consequences of engaging in confirmed bullying behavior

Harassment Prevention Training

EVERFI designs global ethics and compliance courses that educate employees on important skills relating to harassment, diversity, security and culture—protecting your people and your bottom line.


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