Although not a new phenomenon, workplace bullying has become a more visible social issue with the rise of the #MeToo movement and discussions surrounding the topic of #ToxicMasculinity, most recently with the launch of a new brand campaign for Gillette.
According to Dr. Gary Namie, a social psychologist and recognized leader in the field of resolving workplace harassment, “Bullying is shrouded in shame and secrecy. Adult targets cannot believe what is happening to them. Victimization brings shame and bullies thrive when targets and witnesses are so paralyzed by fear that they do nothing. Silence convinces disbelievers that bullying is not actually occurring or that if it is, the impact is not so destructive.”
Some estimates have at least 16% of the workforce directly experiencing bullying in any given year. However the number jumps to almost 50% experiencing harassment over one’s career.
Workplace bullying is a principal factor in the creation of a hostile work environment. It can increase absenteeism and disability costs, reduce productivity, and affect recruitment and retention. According to Statistics Canada, employee absence due to workplace bullying and harassment is estimated to cost $19 billion per year.
Just looking at a fraction of Acclaim Ability Management’s client base, it’s easy to see how the numbers can quickly add up. Examining a cross-section of 350 files from national employers, more than one-third (36%) were short-term disability claims related to psychological issues. Of those 126 files, our Ability Management Consultants identified 18% as related to workplace bullying issues. The indicators used to make this determination include:
- Employee’s expression of anxiety about returning to work due to their manager or co-workers
- Diagnoses included conditions such as anxiety (25%), adjustment disorder (15%), substance abuse (10%) and depression (50%)
- The employees seemed to be healthy outside of work, indicating that issues were related to their time in the workplace
Each employee was absent an average of 159 days, representing an average cost per file of $26,235 ($22/hour X 7.5 hours). The total number of days the employees were absent was 3,180. At $165 per day, the total hard costs related to these absences was $524,700.
Further, these numbers do not include ongoing costs, Long-Term Disability claims and all the associated soft costs, which involve:
- Lost productivity
- Decreased workplace morale
- Recruitment, re-hiring and re-training
- Incidental days (days of absence without moving to Short-Term Disability)
Employees have a basic right to work in an environment free from psychological harassment and physical intimidation, and it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a harassment free work environment and intervene as necessary whenever harassment does take place. Workplace bullying will only stop when people speak up and act against it.
Do you know how much workplace bullying and harassment is costing your organization?
Learn how Acclaim’s Ability Management Consultants can help you create a supportive and inclusive workplace culture in your organization to enhance your employees’ emotional, physical and social health. You can also email email@example.com or call us at 877.867.6064.