Nurses who are bullied and those who witness bullying report a similarly high desire to quit, according to a study conducted by University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers.
“We tend to assume that people experiencing bullying bear the full brunt,” said Sandra Robinson, professor at UBC's School of Business and co-author of the study Escaping bullying: The simultaneous impact of individual and unit level bullying on turnover intention. “However, our findings show that people across an organization experience a moral indignation when others are bullied that can make them want to leave in protest.”
In fact, the researchers reported that “when someone is not bullied directly, the impact of bullying within the work unit has a stronger impact on them than when they are the direct target of bullying.” They report further “that working in an environment in which others are bullied will create a sense of moral uneasiness that will contribute to their own turnover intentions.”
The findings of this study, published in July, 2012, were based on the survey results from more than 350 Canadian nurses across 41 hospital units. Nurses are not alone in their suffering though.
In a CBC news report published in December 2011, Jacqueline Power, an assistant professor of management at the University of Windsor and long-time workplace bullying researcher, said 40 per cent of Canadians has experienced one or more acts of workplace bullying at least once a week for the last six months.
Bullying, also commonly known as psychological harassment, includes unwanted conduct, comments or actions that can affect a workers mental and/or physical health and well-being. It often involves repeated incidents or patterns of behaviour intended to humiliate, degrade, threaten, intimidate and/or offend the victim(s).
Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act) places significant duties on employers relating to workplace violence and harassment including bullying. Chief among these obligations is the requirement to develop and implement workplace violence and harassment policies and program(s). To this end the employer must also provide all workers with information and instruction on the content of the workplace policies and the hazard control measures and other procedures outlined in the programs designed to implement the policies.
The Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) can help.
The WHSC offers a three-hour Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention training program designed to help prepare workplaces to better understand workplace violence, harassment and bullying and to fully comply with the workplace prevention obligations required under the Act. The WHSC also offers compliance checklists for both employers and workers and fact sheets on workplace violence, harassment and bullying.
Want to read the WHSC’s Resource Lines?
Want to read the WHSC’s Violence and Harassment Compliance Checklists?