BY: NADIA ZAIDI
Bullying is a global school-wide epidemic and should be treated as one. Despite the zero-tolerance policies implemented in classrooms across the country, suicide remains the leading cause of death amongst youth – in large part due to the torment by aggressors. Unfortunately, despite the “it gets better” mantra, I wonder, does it really? Workplace bullying is actually a phenomena for many people, but it’s often met with a lack of support.
Truthfully, I used to question the legitimacy of workplace bullying. I mean, adults don’t get shoved into lockers, or have entire study body’s turn against them. But they do have authority figures belittle their work ethic and competency – and this has tremendous effects on self-worth and workplace performance.
I remember interning at a major news station and facing a great deal of workplace bullying. For the most part it was covert, but the employer seemed to exert their authority and opinion on my work by leaving me with meaningless tasks, or reducing my workload. To my advantage, I did have surrounding authority figures note my potential and compensate for this transgression.
It was only then that I realized the severity of workplace bullying and that it is actually manifested beyond the classroom. I think we have a tendency to think that we only deal with difficult people during our formative years, but the reality is that bullies are everywhere.
Imagine walking into a meeting only to be met with suspicious stares and whispers. Subliminal and covert forms of bullying that mimic school ground bully tactics are just as bad — perhaps even worse. This isn’t to derail the attention and severity of bullying in schools, but add an economic dependence and/or leverage to the table and it becomes extremely problematic.
Seventy-five per cent of workers are affected by workplace bullying. It is a problem that inevitably needs a solution in order to deter the number of mental illness cases in the working-aged population.
Research from several workplace bullying institutes show that colleagues rarely help their bullied coworkers and this leads to systemic disenfranchisement toward the targeted.
Bosses and supervisors are the majority of bullies, which compounds the problem because it makes it difficult to report to someone who is already in the highest position.
Workplace bullying is difficult to pinpoint or to report because of the societal and economic repercussions that it holds. When a major employer is charged with bullying aggression the media is often involved and inquests into behaviour and business become invitations to speculate on entire companies and corporations.
This domino effect is facilitating a culture of tolerating bad behaviour and malpractice. Employers don’t want the public to know the truth and this gives them incentive to ensure that their employees are silenced through intimidation.
Women are more likely the victims of workplace bullying or harassment than men. Ideas surrounding what is considered sexually inappropriate have become clearer, but lines are consistently crossed when it comes to female worker and male employer dynamics. Comments on body figures, clothing, or other sexually suggestive innuendos are a leading concern for young women between the ages of 25 – 34.
Workplace bullying is unacceptable and more awareness should lead to implemented policies.