Bullying doesn’t just happen on the playground or in the locker room anymore. Nearly one-third of all employees reported being bullied at work, a new study by CareerBuilder says.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the victims weren’t all a certain race, sexuality, or gender.
“Bullying impacts workers of all backgrounds regardless of race, education, income and level of authority within an organization,” says CareerBuilder VP Rosemary Haefner — although minorities certainly got it worse.
One-third of LGBT employees felt bullied, and women were bullied much more (34 percent) than men (22 percent). African-Americans and Hispanics also reported being bullied at a slightly higher rate overall than Caucasians.
Why am I getting bullied?
Probably not because you are a loser, at least according to a research group called the Workplace Bullying Institute. “Most likely, you were targeted (for reasons the instigator may or may not have known) because you posed a ‘threat’ to him or her,” the WBI says.
WBI also says, and CareerBuilder’s study confirms, that the bully is usually the veteran of the group. Of the workers who felt bullied, nearly half said they felt bullied by their boss, while 25 percent said they were bullied by someone higher up.
Common signs of bullying
Bullies can make you feel physically unsafe, but they can also inflict mental harm.
“It’s often a gray area, but when someone feels bullied, it typically involves a pattern of behavior where there is a gross lack of professionalism, consideration and respect — and that can come in various shapes and sizes,” Haefner says.
Some of the most common problems victims in the survey named included being accused of mistakes they didn’t make, having their comments dismissed at work, and a different set of policies being applied to them than coworkers.
Bullying can be psychological, too. Maybe you’re not getting screamed at in front of your coworkers, but bullies can also put you down by spreading gossip about you, or by purposefully leaving you out of company meetings or lunches.
What to do if you’re being bullied
CBS says that one mistake many people make when dealing with a bully is waiting until one incident turns into a full-blown crisis to do anything. If you do encounter a bully at work, here are some things to consider:
1. Don’t wait out the problem. Bullies do not change overnight. If it’s not you, it’ll be someone else.
2. Document your experience. Start keeping notes on what exactly the bully is doing to you, and make notes of times and dates. That way, you’ll be able to keep track of how often it’s happening, and you’ll have proof when you take your case to upper management.
3. Tell someone else. Psychologist Gary Namie of WBI recommends that employees do not take their problems to HR. “Do not trust HR to give you advice that serves your own best interests — they work for management and are management,” he says. Instead, he recommends involving a boss, and making the case that being bullied harms the company’s bottom line.