Workplace Violence and Bullying at Work

Workplace Violence and Bullying at Work Overview


Scandinavian research has indicated that 3-4% of the working population is regularly exposed to workplace bullying. A higher rate, of approximately 10% has been found in Finland and Britain. (Salin, 2001).

Bullying is a term that was introduced in 1978 by Olweus. It lies between the poles of minor quarrels and outright aggression and part of his definition involves someone being “ exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons”.

Some researchers do not agree with this definition because they believe that being harassed by one person is different from being harassed by a group. They feel harassment by a group should be referred to as “mobbing”. ( Schuster, B., 1996). For the purpose of this paper the Olweus’ definition of bullying is assumed.

There are numerous definitions of workplace bullying, varying between countries and companies, but they all contain the same general idea. There has been some unwanted repeated action, verbal or physical, against a target by someone else, and the target reacted negatively and experienced damage of some kind.

Often a power imbalance also exists. Bullying behaviours are hard to sum up as they can range from outright pestering of someone to subtle undermining. Often workplace bullying is not about what someone does but about what they do not do. Not passing on information or not speaking to someone for example. Importantly, bullying consists of a pattern of behaviours, as single incidents may on their own seem harmless. (Rayner, et al., 2002).

 

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