Women, Bullying, and Employee Engagement
Posted on March 19, 2013 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)
In previous posts, we have focused on the negative consequences of workplace bullying. Workplace bullying can have lasting impacts on employees and cause problems in the office. What about women specifically? Is bullying amongst women even more prevalent in the workplace?
Believe it or not, women are bullied more in the workplace then men (MacIntosh, 2012). There are many reasons why this may be. As we all know, women in the work force often have a harder time climbing the corporate ladder and gaining leadership roles in organizations. Think too of the obstacles women face that are unique. Women in the business world often takes leaves of absence to have children. This can be a bitter topic against often men in the office. I myself have witnessed jokes about coworkers having multiple leaves of absence to have children.
MacIntosh’s research focused on how bullying in the workplace ultimately impacts a woman’s decision to stay with an organization or leave. Why is this research important? I know I don’t have to tell you that the cost of turnover can be devastating for an organization. The study found that often when a woman has invested a lot into an organization, she is less likely to leave. For instance, if a woman really enjoys her job and the organization she works for, she may be able to tolerate bullying compared to someone who does not enjoy what they do.
Then there is the fear side of bullying. Unfortunately, women tend to fear consequences of standing up against bullying in the workplace. They believe that their job will become worse and that it is not worth it to speak up no matter how bad it gets. This is the discouraging part of bullying in the workplace.
How can organizations help eliminate not only bullying but bullying directed towards women? There is no easy answer because often the motives of the person doing the bullying are quite complex. However, here are some easy tips to help tone down the bullying:
Training. If employees are unaware of what constitutes “bullying” in the workplace, how will they know what behaviors to avoid? Employees may be surprised when they learn what kinds of jokes or behavior are considered bullying.
Team building. Many times bullying is a result of poor communication or rocky relationships within the organization. Allowing employees the opportunity to get to know one another can help create stronger relationships that resist the need for bullying.
Reference: MacIntosh, J. (2012). Workplace bullying influences women’s engagement in the workforce. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 33, 762-768.