Representative image
Representative image

Results of workplace bullying, study suggests

ANI | Updated: May 17, 2019 13:18 IST

Washington D.C [U.S.A], May 17 (ANI): Workplace bullying not only leads to health-related problems in the victims but can also cause them to behave badly, reveals a latest research.
In some cases this is characterised by a lack of problem solving and high avoidance coping strategies.
For example, drinking alcohol when facing a problem, experiencing very frequent negative emotions like anger, fear and sadness. Other repercussions may include high work 'moral disengagement' or in simpler terms, the way individuals rationalise their actions and absolve themselves of responsibility for the consequences.
The study, carried out by the University of East Anglia and Uninettuno Telematic International University in Italy, was published in the journal, 'Personality and Individual Differences.'
Bullying is one of the major occupational stresses for employees and the effects can compromise their development as well as their health and can interfere with the achievement of both personal and professional goals.
It is usually differentiated as work-related and also personal-related bullying.
The former refers to the one affecting the workload. For example, removing responsibility and work processes, such as attacks on someone's professional status.
The latter refers to both indirect - for example exclusion and isolation - and direct negative behaviour, such as physical abuse.
While the previous researches showed a link between being the target of bullying and behavioural problems, for the first time this study identified different configurations of victims by considering not only exposure to and types of bullying but also health problems and bad behaviour.
The study also examined how these groups differ in terms of negative emotions experienced in relation to work, coping strategies and moral disengagement.
Dr. Roberta Fida, a senior researcher said, "Overall, our results show the need to consider not only exposure to and types of bullying but also their associated consequences. In particular, the findings highlight that victimization is associated not only with health problems but also with a greater likelihood of not behaving in line with the expected social and organizational norms."
"The greater the intensity of bullying and the more the exposure to different types of bullying, the higher the likelihood of engaging in counterproductive workplace behavior. Furthermore, the results show that health-related symptoms are not always associated with experiences of bullying. Indeed, while those experiencing limited work-related bullying did not report health problems, those who were not bullied but misbehaved did," she adds.
The researchers believe that the importance of emotions needs to be considered in HR and management intervention policies.
"Despite the evidence recognizing the relevance of emotions when dealing with workplace aggression, this is rarely incorporated into guidelines," said Dr. Fida.
The researchers asked 1019 Italian employees about their experiences of workplace bullying, counterproductive behaviour and health symptoms. They were also asked about their coping strategies, negative emotions experienced at work and moral disengagement.
Five groups were identified by the researchers, one of which includes victims who are the target of work-related bullying and frequently exposed to personal-related bullying, who experience high health problems and misbehaviour (4.4% of the sample).
Another group experience work-related bullying but less of personal-related bullying, and show lower health problems and misbehaviour (9.6%).
A third group has limited exposure to work-related bullying and no exposure to personal-related bullying (22.3%). While not experiencing health-related problems they sometimes engage in counterproductive work behaviour.
A fourth group includes those who are not bullied but have high health-related symptoms and some misbehavior (23.9%). The last group identified are not exposed to any bullying, have no health symptoms or behavioural problems (39.9%). (ANI)