Handout for GCC Paraphrasing Video 1
Excerpt from Chris' Paper:
Before we can decide if workplace bullying is a pervasive problem, we need to define what it means. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, workplace bullying is the "repeated, health-harming mistreatment" of one or more victims. It involves threats, sabotage, and verbal abuse and it is motivated by the bully's need to control others. Workplace bullying involves acts of commission as well as acts of omission and can be thought of as domestic violence at work.
Excerpt from Jamie's Paper:
The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) defines behaviors as bullying if they are (a) repeated; (b) harmful to the target (particularly if the target suffers health consequences); and (c) contrary to business interests. In addition, the WBI's definition strongly implies that bullying needs to be intentional since it describes bullies as choosing their targets, timing, and methods, all of which implies intentional planning. Therefore this paper will define workplace bullying as repeated, intentional behavior that is harmful to both the victim and the company's business interests.
Excerpt from Taylor's Paper:
The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) employs a very broad definition of bullying that tends to focus on bullying's subjective effects rather than on specific, objective behaviors. For instance, WBI defines bullying as behavior that is "health-harming" to the victim, but it is not clear what this means. For instance, is a temporary elevation in blood pressure due to an unpleasant conversation "health-harming"? Similarly, the WBI uses words such as "threatening" or "intimidating" to define bullying, but these terms are very subjective and are undefined. Under the WBI's definition, almost any behavior someone doesn't like could be perceived as bullying. Therefore, this paper rejects the WBI's broad definition.
Laws have consequences--both intended and unintended. Laws can be twisted so that they end up hurting the very people they are meant to protect. On the other hand, extreme behaviors do occur in the workplace and it is important to protect people who are vulnerable. Justice and fairness are central American values.
Although "Healthy Workplace Bills" meant to curb workplace bullying have been introduced in several state legislatures, currently no state has actually adopted a bill against workplace bullying.
Review the material below to answer the question: Is workplace bullying enough of a problem to justify a law at the state level? Will the benefits of the current proposed "Healthy Workplace Bill" outweigh the potential unintended consequences? Why or why not? You must cite at least five of the six sources.
Imagine a child on a playground consistently tormenting one of her peers with jibes, insults and threats. If this behavior was allowed to continue, we could expect the victim to suffer considerable anxiety and humiliation. As a nation, we have made a concerted effort to combat bullying in schools. But what about bullying in the workplace? Though we may associate bullying with a playground setting, the reality is that bullying in the workplace affects over a quarter of all American adults, and can result in health problems such as hypertension, auto-immune disorders, depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Namie, 2014), causing both the individual’s health, and their career, to suffer. Considering the scope and severity of this problem, we need anti-bullying legislation because workplaces have conflicts of interest that prevent them from prosecuting bullies, bullying is destructive to workplace morale, and current laws are insufficient.
Anti-bullying legislation is necessary because workplace bullies have real, tangible power over their victims. Fifty-six percent of workplace bullies are managers or supervisors (Shriar, 2014) who have control over salaries, schedules, and other details of their employees’ lives. Although companies have HR departments tasked with advocating for the well-being of their employees, (Corcoran & Carragher 2010), these departments may be under the influence of the bullying manager. Indeed, according to Shriar (2014), most employers deny or discount any accusation of bullying. This leaves most victims powerless to seek recourse.
We also need to prevent workplace bullying because it destroys morale and makes our businesses less competitive. A study from the Saunder School of Business at UCB (Shriar 2104) found that workers who experience bullying second-hand have a stronger urge to quit than the victims themselves. For instance, Shriar was forced to resign from her job even though she did not suffer any personal abuse, claiming that witnessing such bullying makes people want to quit. Bullying fosters an environment that prevents collaboration and innovation.
Current policies are not sufficient. While there are federal policies designed to prevent acts and threats of physical violence in the workplace, these policies do not cover verbal bullying, making psychological violence (Shriar, 2014), the more common form of bullying, entirely legal. Considering that America already has substantial federal laws and policies governing unions and workplace discrimination, it is highly incongruous that there are no federal regulations concerning bullying.
There are those who oppose anti-bullying legislation, arguing that bullying plays a part in a survival-of-the-fittest work environment. For instance, Dunn (2009) argues that it can inspire workers to be more self-reliant, and urges workers to “do what’s in their self interest.” Similarly, Samnani, Sing, and Ezzedeen (2013) suggest that victims may respond to bullying behavior with coping mechanisms that increase their productivity. However, even if a victim were to respond to bullying by increasing her productivity, she might very well end up working herself towards a heart attack or other stress-related medical issue. Moreover, the most productive workplaces tend to be collaborative and supportive—not cut-throat environments that make employees want to quit.
Based on the evidence in the readings, it is clear that the negative effects of workplace bullying are strong enough to merit a consistent application of anti-bullying legislation not only within states, but also across all states. I therefore suggest that rather than working solely on the state level of government, we should enact anti-bullying laws and policies on the level of the federal government.
Workplace bullying is a serious issue that affects 37% of american adults. The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) defines bullying as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators which can include verbal abuse, offensive behaviors which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, and work interference that prevents work from getting done. Bullying is mistreatment that can compromise a worker’s health, jeopardize a worker’s job and career, and hurt relationships with friends and relatives. Moreover, bullying has little relationship with work itself, is motivated by the bully’s agenda and actually prevents work from being completed. (Namie, 2015). I support a workplace bullying law because it comes from managers or senior leaders, has a negative effect on company culture, and the US is the only western democracy that does not have a law against it.
Some people say that we do not need anti-bullying laws because human resource professionals are dedicated to advocating for their employees (Corcoran & Carragher 2010). Others say “the weak are not your problem” (Dunn 2009). Such arguments do not take into consideration the full negative effects of bullying. We need to consider We need to consider workplace bullying as a serious issue because 56% of the time, it comes from a manager or senior leader. (Shriar 2014). This is why Shriar is a big fan of having a flat hierarchy. “It’s been proven many times that power corrupts and so it doesn’t surprise me that most of the bullying comes from someone in a higher position of power than you.” (Shriar 2014).
Another reason a law against workplace bullying is necessary is that bullying behavior has a negative effect on company culture. Even if an individual feels they are being treated well at their place of work and are not the victim of bullying themselves, just witnessing other people being bullied can make workers want to quit, and gives them a good reason to want leave their jobs. Indeed, according to a study by the Sauder school of business, workers who witness bullying want to quit even more than those who experience it first hand. Even if they do decide to stay at their current position, these individuals may become less productive and less engaged as a result of witnessing this negative behavior. In the end, because of this negative effect on morale and productivity, bullying can hurt the bottom line of a workplace (Shriar 2014). Researchers have suggested that workplace bullying will lead to lower performance (Al-Karim Samnani et al. 2013).
Finally, the U.S. is the only western democracy that does not have a law forbidding bullying in the workplace. None of the 50 states has a law preventing workplace bullying. Anti-discrimination laws exist, but only apply to 20% of cases. In order to claim harassment or discrimination, you must be a member of a protected status group based on your gender, race, disability, ethnicity, or religion. For example, a black man being bullied by another black man would not be protected (Namie 2014).
Clearly, bullying of any kind is a serious issue that must be addressed in the workplace. A workplace bullying law is necessary because current laws only protect workers from acts of physical violence, even though most workplace bullying takes the form of psychological violence. The US is the last western democracy not to have an anti-bullying law, so I think it is high time we instituted one to protect people in the workplace from negative behavior in every situation.