Dealing with bullying at work is exhausting. It not only takes a lot of brain power and an emotional toll, it impacts your mood at home and your family relationships. Stewing over dealing with bullying at work not only interrupts your sleep, workplace bullying destroys your health. I have been encouraged of late by greater acknowledgement by researchers and governments of the impacts of workplace bullying for targets and their families.
A couple of examples come to mind of conferences where research results are being aired and prevention and solution approaches are on the agenda. In New York recently, the New York State Psychological Association Organizational, Consulting, and Work (OCW) Psychology Division hosted a conference about bullying in and out of the workplace. A report from that conference was posted in April 2013. The legal angle of dealing with bulling at work seems to be taking a high profile in America at the moment. The idea is to get legislation across the line in each state to support bullying targets.
In Australia, a conference is scheduled for late May 2013 called “No 2 Bullying”.
Hosted by a not for profit organisation, the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association Inc. the conference is happening on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Themes for the conference include school, cyber and workplace bullying. In Australia, workplace bullying is usually addressed under guidelines associated with the workplace health and safety legislation. Only one state, Victoria, places workplace bullying within the criminal code. The good news is that a national government inquiry recently acknowledged the serious health implication of workplace bullying. It said that, “Workplace bullying can have a profound effect on all aspects of a person’s health as well as their work and family life.” It also noted the Productivity Commission’s estimate of the total cost of dealing with bullying at work in Australia – between $6 billion and $36 billion annually.
A long history of research on dealing with bullying at work
The European Union has a significant history of research on dealing with bullying at work. I came across it first in 2004 when I attended a conference in Adelaide, South Australia about freedom from workplace bullying and harassment. Back then, Australian organisations were being told to put policies and procedures in place but few Australian organisations had experience in dealing with bullying at work effectively.
The keynote speaker from Germany at the 2004 conference, Professor Dieter Zapf, caught everyone’s attention. He talked about 20 years of research in the EU prompted by looking into the causes of serious health issues experienced by workers. A stand out cause was dealing with bullying at work over long periods. The extract for Zapf’s paper said, “The bullying leaves the victim in a “no-control”-situation and restricts the spectrum of coping behaviours which can reasonably be used in such situations. In many cases, conflict avoidance is the only possible strategy. It does not stop the conflict, however. For many victims, leaving the organisation is the final solution.”
I am booked to go to the Australian No 2 Bullying conference in May. I am looking forward to hearing where Australian research on dealing with bullying at work is up to now.
If you want to change your outcomes and learn more about dealing with bullying at work, visit HowToDealWithABullyAtWork.com.