Sunday, September 14, 2008

Monsters at work

I'm amazed at the number of people I'm currently seeing who are suffering some degree of post-traumatic stress from events in the workplace. Practical Man also experienced something similar a little while back. With 25 years of service under his belt, his immediate boss was told to do whatever she could to 'get him out'. They made his life hell in many ways. We had to seek legal advice. Eventually, the immediate boss left. For now, all seems fine but that's only on the surface.

Workplace bullying relates to the ill-treatment of a person in the workplace by one or more other people. The mistreatment need not be physical in nature but can involve:

verbal abuse
exclusion from social interaction
restrictive and petty work rules
threat of demotion or being fired
sabotage of work
unreasonable demands

among many other behaviours.

The consequences can be considerable. Stress, depression, anxiety, anger, withdrawal.

Like any form of bullying, it can be hard to take action against the perpetrators. However, employers have a duty to protect workers against this kind of behaviour.

If you find yourself in this situation, consider these useful hints from The Mental Health Association of NSW:

As an initial step, explain to the person bullying you how their behaviour is making you feel and how you would like them to behave instead. This demonstrates that you have tried to resolve the problem and the person cannot claim they did not know.

Ensure you document bullying incidents. Record what is happening, who is doing it and when.

Contact your company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if your company has one or otherwise the Human Resources department and consider making a formal complaint.

While these steps make common sense, many people in this position lose confidence and feel powerless, consequently opting to walk away rather than take action. If you know someone in this position, be ready to lend a supportive ear and encourage them to seek help if necessary.

For more resources on workplace bullying:


Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I've worked for monsters in the past. Two corporate people decided to tear our little workplaces apart (with the company's consent) and it was definitely hell. People never knew when they would be fired or if they were just going to be threatened each day. The work demands became impossible to fulfill. In my case, I would work six days a week for as long as I physically could each day doing the work of my own and three other people that had gotten fired. I would then get screamed at and threatened because all the work wasn't completed. It was never enough for them. It was awful.

The corporate idiots did a lot of damage to a lot of people. I've lost track of my immediate supervisor, but I'm not sure he ever recovered. Other people survived and recovered from the abuse, but there were a few that died.

Many of the workers sued the company and won. No one lost their lawsuit. It ended up costing the company millions of dollars. One of the bullies ended up being fired on Christmas eve (that felt like poetic justice!) and the other was sent back to corporate in Cincinnati. I hope they fired her ass.


Kevin Kennemer said...

Will someone stand up against these workplace terrorists? When will companies rise up and take a stand against employee abuse? These monsters do it because they can and because they get away with it with no consequences.

On the other hand, if respected leaders and employees began to take a stand against these workplace terrorists, we could rid the workplace of this cancer.

Great post. Please continue to make your readers aware of Monsters at Work.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, I so agree with you - someone should prevent companies from doing these things. In my case, it was all done in the name of the budget. Of course, the lawsuits caused the company to lose much more than they might have saved, but I think they must have thought at the time that us peon workers wouldn't rise up and go after them but, rather, just lay down and take it.

Another problem that contributed to us putting up with the abuse was that the economy was very poor at the time. Considering how things are in the US right now economically, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear of more companies abusing their employees. I guess it's not against the law to do this.


Anonymous said...

Hit "publish" too soon!

Even when a company's actions are against the law, I think they believe that any fines imposed will cost them less than anything employees might do. It's a cost/benefit thing.


phd in yogurtry said...

Documenting in the form of a dated journal/diary is so important. Excellent post. I very often work with people experiencing this. Its 6th grade gone corporate.

Anonymous said...

workplace terrorists can damage your health. You cannot sleep, you hate to go to work every day, you think about work issues before and after the work, ...

it is not just words but the deeds or lack of deeds that can make your work place a hell.

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Anonymous said...

I have had this kind of a boss that he describes in the book.
He is still harrassing me even if I changed the department and tasks.
Now he is giving my number to his lunch dates and they keep calling me of whatever issues they have to ask...

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