Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying

Verified by World Mental Healthcare Association

Workplace bullying is a detrimental practice that involves an employee being subjected to repeated mistreatment by colleagues or superiors, causing severe negative impacts on mental and physical health, as well as job performance and career prospects. It can take many forms, including verbal abuse, physical intimidation, exclusion, and sabotaging someone’s work.

What Is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying refers to the harmful pattern of repeated behavior directed towards an individual by one or more coworkers or managers that can persist over time, causing significant emotional and psychological harm and a toxic work environment, which negatively affects employee morale, productivity, and job satisfaction.

When employees are bullied, they may lose interest 1 in their work, which can lead to lower job satisfaction and an increased likelihood of being absent from work or leaving their job. This can be a problem for organizations because high levels of absenteeism 2 and staff turnover can be costly and disrupt business operations, which ultimately impact the organization’s financial bottom line.

Research shows that women 3 are more likely to be targets of workplace bullying than men, possibly due to stereotypes, discrimination, or assumptions of inferiority. Women may experience bullying differently from men, with gender-specific bullying such as sexual harassment being a common form.

Read More About Bullying Here

Examples Of Workplace Bullying

Here are some examples of workplace bullying:

  1. Verbal abuse, such as yelling, name-calling, and insults 4 directed at an individual.
  2. Physical intimidation, including threatening behavior, invasion of personal space, or physical gestures 5.
  3. Excluding an individual from team meetings or social events, or refusing to communicate or work with them.
  4. Assigning unreasonable workloads 6 or giving them an unrealistic deadline to complete a task.
  5. Monitoring an individual’s work closely, excessively criticizing their work, or not allowing them to make decisions on their own.
  6. Withholding important information or resources, or intentionally preventing an individual from completing tasks.
Facts About Workplace Bullying

Types Of Workplace Bullying

There are several different types of workplace bullying, including:

1. Verbal Bullying

This type of bullying involves the use of words to hurt, intimidate, or belittle someone. Examples include humiliating 7, shouting, or using offensive language.

2. Emotional Bullying

Emotional bullying involves deliberately causing emotional distress 8 to someone. Examples include insulting someone in front of others, spreading rumors, or threatening someone’s job security.

3. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment involves unwanted sexual advances 9 or comments and can include physical or verbal behavior. Examples include inappropriate touching, making sexual comments or jokes, or displaying sexually explicit materials.

4. Regulation Bullying

This type of bullying involves the unnecessary enforcement 10 of inappropriate rules made by an employer or employee in a position of power to make the target feel more powerless.

5. Discriminatory Bullying

Discriminatory bullying 11 involves targeting someone based on their race, gender, religion, or other personal characteristics. Examples include making derogatory comments or jokes or excluding someone based on their identity.

Early Warning Signs/Identifying Signs Of Workplace Bullying

It’s important to recognize the early warning signs 12 of workplace bullying so that it can be addressed before it becomes more severe.

Here are some common workplace bullying signs:

1. Intimidation Tactics

Workplace bullies often use intimidation tactics to control their victims. These tactics may include yelling and using aggressive language 13.

2. Undermining Work

A workplace bully may intentionally undermine the victim’s work 6, such as by sabotaging projects or withholding important information.

3. Unreasonable Demands

Workplace bullies may make unreasonable demands 14 on their victims, such as expecting them to work long hours or complete tasks outside of their job description.

4. Personal Attacks

Workplace bullies may make personal attacks 15 on their victims, such as criticizing their appearance, race, religion, or sexual orientation.

5. Blaming

Workplace bullies may blame their victims for problems that are not their fault or may try to make them a scapegoat 16 for mistakes made by the bully or others.

6. Isolation

Workplace bullies often try to isolate 17 their victims from other coworkers. They may spread rumors or gossip about the victim or exclude them from social activities.

Why Do People Bully At Work?

There are many possible reasons why people may engage in bullying behavior at work. Here are some common factors 18 that may contribute to workplace bullying:

  • Workplace bullies may use bullying as a way to feel more powerful and in control due to personal insecurities or low self-esteem 19.
  • A culture of competition 6 in some workplaces can increase the likelihood of bullying behavior.
  • High workplace stress can result 20 in bullying behavior, as individuals may vent their frustration on others.
  • Some individuals may have been bullied in the past 21 and are simply repeating this behavior to others.
  • Unaddressed bullying behavior can escalate over time 22 and become more severe.

How Does Workplace Bullying Affect Your Mental and Physical Health

Workplace bullying can have a significant impact on an individual’s physical as well as mental health.

Here are some ways that workplace bullying can affect physical health:

1. Musculoskeletal Problems

Workplace bullying can lead to physical tension and muscle stiffness, which can cause musculoskeletal problems 23 such as back pain, neck pain, and headaches.

2. Cardiovascular Problems

Chronic stress caused by workplace bullying can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems 24 such as heart disease and stroke.

3. Reduced Immune System Function

Workplace bullying can weaken the immune system 8, making individuals more susceptible to illness and infection.

Here are some ways that workplace bullying can affect your mental health:

1. Increased Stress

Being a victim of workplace bullying can lead to increased levels of stress 25, which can cause a range of physical health problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, and digestive issues.

Read More About Stress Here

2. Sleep Disturbances

Workplace bullying can cause sleep disturbances 26, which may lead to disruption of the body’s biological clock, metabolism, and the sleep-wake cycle. In turn, this can affect the body’s homeostasis, or the ability to maintain a stable internal environment.

3. Depression and Anxiety

Workplace bullying can also cause mental health problems such as depression and anxiety 27, which can have symptoms such as loss of job satisfaction, loneliness, or isolation from others.

Effect of Workplace Bullying on Mental Health

Read More About Anxiety Here
Read More About Depression Here

How Does Bullying Affect The Workplace?

Bullying in the workplace can have numerous negative effects, which include:

  • A hostile work environment.
  • Toxic work culture 28, where employees feel unsupported, undervalued, and disengaged.
  • Impact on the organization’s reputation, both internally and externally
  • A negative perception of the organization 29 and difficulty in attracting and retaining quality employees.
  • Potential legal and financial consequences 30, such as legal fees, and other related expenses can be significant.

Coping With Workplace Bullying

If you are being bullied at work, it is important to take action to protect yourself. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Document the Bullying

Keep a record of any incidents of bullying, including what happened 12, when it happened, and who was involved.

2. Report the Bullying

Speak to your supervisor or HR (Human Resources) 31 representative about the bullying. Provide them with your documentation and ask for their help in resolving the issue.

3. Seek Support

Talk to someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, or therapist, about what you’re going through. You may also be able to get support from an employee assistance program 32 (EAP) or a union.

4. Stand Up for Yourself

If you feel comfortable, speak up and assert your boundaries. Let the person know that such behavior is not acceptable.

5. Consider Your Options

If the bullying continues or your employer is unwilling or unable to help, you may need to consider other options, such as filing a complaint with a regulatory agency or seeking legal advice 33.

6. Practice Self-care

Take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Make time for activities that you enjoy, such as exercise, reading, or spending time 34 with loved ones.


Workplace bullying statistics reveal that employees who experience bullying are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and have higher rates of absenteeism and presenteeism. It’s important for employers and employees to prevent workplace bullying, which requires implementing policies and procedures, providing employee training, and creating a culture of respect and inclusion.

At A Glance

  1. Workplace bullying is characterized by repeated abusive behavior at work.
  2. The effects of workplace bullying can be long-lasting and detrimental.
  3. Examples of workplace bullying include verbal abuse, spreading false information, and physical aggression.
  4. An early sign of workplace bullying may be increased tension, stress, or anxiety in the targeted employee.
  5. Workplace bullying and harassment can have serious negative impacts on an employee’s mental health and well-being.
  6. Knowing how to deal with workplace bullying is crucial for employees.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is The Purpose of An Anti-bullying Policy?

An anti-bullying policy establishes a safe and healthy work environment by outlining prohibited behaviors, consequences, and reporting procedures.

2. What is The Most Common Type of Harassment in The Workplace?

sexual harassment is the most common type of workplace harassment that creates a hostile work environment.

3. What are 3 Actions to Take If You’re Experiencing Workplace Harassment?

Take action by reporting it to your supervisor or HR representative, keeping a detailed record of the incidents, and seeking emotional support from trusted colleagues or professionals.

4. How Do I Report Bullying at Work?

To report bullying at work, check your company’s policy, and talk to your supervisor or HR to take some action.

👇 References:
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