9% of Employees Are Currently Being Bullied


You knew there was a problem. But, did you know it was THIS BAD? I’m talking about workplace bullying. The 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey found that 60.3 million U.S. workers are impacted by bullying in the workplace. Here are the details.

The Problem

The Workplace Bullying Institute defines bullying as “repeated mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees; abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, work sabotage, or verbal abuse.” In general, about 63% of employees are aware of bullying as an issue, while 37% say they’re unaware. Employees who have personal experience with bullying say the following:

  • Been bullied 10%
  • Are being bullied 9%
  • Have witnessed bullying 19%

Bullying also appears to be linked to gender. Most bullies, 70%, are male. These men choose females as their targets 65% of the time. Interestingly, women are also more likely to bully other women. Sixty-​seven percent of people targeted by female bullies are female.

The Cost

There’s no specific law against bullying. However, the Workplace Bullying Institute is working to generate support for legislation that would ensure a healthy workplace. In the meantime, the state of workplace incivility should be setting off alarm bells for business leaders and managers. Employees who feel bullied certainly aren’t going to perform at their best. They’ll be looking for a new job and, once they find a better position, you can expect they’ll alert the rest of the professional world about the bad work environment at your organization.

The Remedy

You can turn the situation around by starting with your managers. The bullying survey reveals that 61% of employees who had trouble experienced it from an individual who had a position that was higher up than theirs. If necessary, bring in outside professionals to define bullying behavior for your management team. Give managers training on how to engage in a civil and emotionally intelligent way with their team members. If they won’t comply, show them the door.

The same advice holds true for all employees. At least 33% of reported bullying was dished out by a peer employee. Make sure all of your employees understand the rules for civil behavior at your company. Write up your policy and post the details in public spaces.

To make sure everyone knows you're serious, give employees a safe place to report bullying. Investigate the claim quickly and thoroughly. And, when they're true, take action against the offenders. Your team will quickly realize they're working in a safe and civil workplace.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.