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The True Cost of Bullying

What is bullying?

Bullying, sometimes called harassment, can be defined as persistent health endangering personal abuse that humiliates and demeans a person.  In many cases in the workplace this type of behavior is overlooked or downplayed as personality conflicts, or simply “attitude” issues. 

Bullying behaviors

Work place incivility is any negative behavior that demonstrates a lack of regard for other workers. This can include a number of negative behaviors such as teasing, gossiping, purposely withholding information, overruling decisions without a rationale, sabotaging team efforts, demeaning others, verbal intimidation, invalid criticism and nitpicking, name calling, personal insults, public ridicule and humiliation, threats, and spreading rumors.

What drives a bully?

There are many theories as to what causes a person to become a bully.  Bullying behaviors stem from psychological factors in the bully, such as low self-esteem, feelings of incompetence, or the need for power and control. Most cases are not isolated incidents and the majority of bullies have a long history of this behavior.

Cost to the person being bullied

The obvious price is the paid by the person being bullied. Many common reactions to being bullied at work include acute and chronic anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, fatigue, lack of mental focus and PTSD.  Bullying of nurses leads to the erosion of professional competence in addition to the common stress induced health problems.

Costs to patients

A nurse dealing with any of these stress induced ailments is obviously not able to provide optimal patient care; therefore, it is the patient that will pay the ultimate price of the healthcare environment that is fraught with bullying behaviors.

Costs to the employer

The costs of allowing bullying behavior to thrive in the workplace are significant to the employer.  These workplaces tend to have an atmosphere of fear, secrecy, and low cooperation and low productivity. Within these caustic walls exists high rates of staff turnover, sick leave usage, poor quality of care, unstable work environments, suspension and disciplinary actions, dismissals, grievances, will health retirements and early retirements. All of these issues represent high monetary losses for the employer.

Employers’ Responsibilities

Healthcare leaders have a responsibility to employees and the public to provide work environments that are free from abuse and harassment. When workplace bullying has been identified as a problem senior leaders must take swift and appropriate action to ensure the abuse stops. The perpetrator is held accountable and steps are taken to ensure bullying does not occur again. Policies and procedures must be implemented and enforced to ensure nurses feel safe to report incidents of incivility and bullying. (reference 1)

Do you have a problem of bullies or incivility in your office, unit or workplace?

Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace. Sometimes it is difficult to determine if you are being bullied at work or managers may not know the issue exists within their unit or facility.  The Pedagogy Workplace Bullying Quiz includes a sample of issues that may be experienced within a bullying environment. If you or your staff answered ‘often’ or 'sometimes’ to some of the items on the quiz, bullying may be an issue. Bullying can affect all aspects of the bullied’s life, the safety of patients and clients, the productivity and health of the workplace.  With education and practice, we can to learn how to successfully deal with bullying.

Download the quiz for yourself and staff- and let’s all face this issue head on.  If workplace bullying issues are identified consider education for your managers and staff on the subject with our online course Healthcare Bullying Solutions.  This course may be provided to individuals or to an entire staff, discounts available for facility purchases of 10 or more courses, call us at 903-871-2150 or email sales@pedagogy-inc.com

References: www.texasnurse.org/resource/.../cole_edmonson_and_linda_law.pptx
Posted: 9/2/2014 5:38:49 PM
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