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The Effects of Workplace Bullying

Ashley Martin

Arkansas Tech University


The Effects of Workplace Bullying

The intention of this review is to show the prevalence of bullying in the workplace and its

harmful effects on people as well as the workplace itself. This review will define workplace

bullying, the different ways it can manifest, and ways to address the issue. The literature was

collected from the Arkansas Tech University’s Library. Search topics were “Workplace

Bullying”, “Harmony in the Workplace”, “Getting Along With Co-Workers” and “Can Bullying

Effect Productivity”. The references are organized in order of relativity to the subject and were

selected based on usefulness of information.

Definition of Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is picking on a target repeatedly by a person or group of people.

(Tuckey & Neall, 2014, p. 413) Bullies are equally likely to be male or female. (Sitzman, n.d.) It

can be overt or covert and ranges from belittling, humiliation and excluding to undermining a co-

workers contribution. It is not to be confused with playful or benign teasing. This article gives

definitive cues to what the behavior is and how to differentiate bullying from harassment with

examples. Workplace bullying occurs between similar status levels in the workplace, insulting

administrators or managers are not included in this definition. (Vega & Comer, 2005) One

article gives a conflicting descriptive in its definition to include that bullying can be a managerial

technique, such as the threat to be terminated. (Pagura, 2014)

History of Bullying

The United States has been one of the last to address the issue of power abuse. Joseph

and his brothers are a historical story of bullying from the Bible. “The demoralization victims

suffer can create toxic working environments and impair organizational productivity.” (Vega &

Comer, 2005, p. 101) The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was one of the largest efforts by the United

States to procure equal treatment of human beings. Bullying is illegal in some countries, but not

in the United States. Sweden passed legislation in 1997, The Swedish Work Environment Act,

prohibiting such behaviors. Australia has the Fair Work Act that cover about 85% of its workers

and an article was added to legislate actions that could be taken. (Pagura, 2014) By seeing the

legislation created in other nations as well as in the USA, it is apparent that no industry is

immune and it is a universal concern.

Effects of Workplace Bullying

The bully, the witnesses and the person being bullied suffer physical and emotional

consequences. Headaches, sleep problems, rapid heart rate, clinical depression and weight issues

have been recorded. After prolonged periods, post-traumatic stress disorder can occur,

solidifying just how detrimental this can be. (Sitzman, n.d.) Facing or enduring harassment is

perceived by many as a traumatic experience and is a known producer of anxiety and lessens the

positive affect in daily. (Glaso & Notelears, 2012) All articles researched have concurring data

that list similar effects caused by negative behaviors and interpersonal relationships at work.

There are financial considerations to be taken into account. Workplace bullying has a

direct effect on rising absenteeism. It is the negative factor when discussing job satisfaction and

the want to relocate. Replacing employees is not only a considerable expense for a company, it

is a stressor for the other employees. One of the greatest expenses for a company can be in the

human resource department with recruitment and training. Positive and negative emotions were

studied in two hypotheses’ to test the relationship to job satisfaction, turn over and commitment.

Anonymous questionnaires were used to collect data from a survey that was voluntary and it

supported the findings. (Glaso & Notelears, 2012, p. 366)

Techniques to Combat Bullying in the Workplace


Expectations, rules and standards should be discussed from the beginning. Being

proactive about the company’s stance shows that workplace bullying is taken serious and will not

be tolerated. A handbook with the policies should be given to each new employee and a

dialogue created to be certain of understanding. Positive conduct training is recommended and

would be more lucrative in the long run than a large turnover in staffing. The disciplinary

consequences should be outlined for infractions and also what steps to take to address and report

allegations. It is recommended for larger places of employment to delegate a specific person to

handle these allegations. This is a brief article that contains many pertinent ideas that are

condensed and simple. (Pagura, 2014)

Researching the company and its culture before you start is a good way to be proactive

and assertive. Talking to co-workers, asking questions, and finding out what would be valuable

to the team are also recommendations for a smooth transition. If there is a chain of command,

know and follow it. (Vermillion, 2015, p. 1)

Workplace bullying is has been reported in every type of job place and at all levels. It

has adverse physical and emotional effects not only for the person being bullied, but for those

who witness it. A knowledgeable, effective manager will have positive methods that are

lucrative for the company and for the employees. Each article reviewed is in agreement that

workplace bullying is detrimental to all parties in the workforce. There are many ways to bully

in this context, such as harsh words, derogatory comments, or sabotaging a co-worker’s

contribution to a project. It is a costly not only in the physical way, but for the company by

losing long-term committed workers. Supervisors that encourage diversity will have a more

harmonious team and in turn be more productive. Keeping policies updated and reviewing them

often is a way to keep all department conscious to the issue.



Glaso, L., & Notelears, G. (2012). Workplace Bullying, Emotions, and Outcomes. Victims and

Violence, 27.3, 360-77.

Pagura, I. (2014). Workplace Bullying. Law Report, 21, 50-51.

Sitzman, K. (n.d.). Workplace Bullying. Express Speak. from

Tuckey, M. R., & Neall, A. M. (2014). Workplace Bullying Erodes Job and Personal Resoures:

Between- and Within-Person Perspectives. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology,

19, 413-424.

Vega, G., & Comer, D. R. (2005). Sticks and Stones may Break Your Bones, but Words can

Break Your Spirit: Bullying in the Workplace. Journal of Business Ethics, 58, 101-109.

Vermillion, S. (2015). 6 Ways to Stay Sane in a New Job. Tactics.