Bullying and psychological violence has a negative mental health effect
Two forms of workplace violence are bullying and psychological violence. Both are types of workplace harassment. However, they have different characteristics and implications.
There are some differences in the way these two phenomena operate in the workplace. Both involve an imbalance of power between the aggressor and their target, which can be seen in many forms of abuse, threat, humiliation or intimidation that creates a hostile work environment.
In addition to being illegal under federal law, both workplace bullying and psychological violence have negative effects on employees, with one study showing that 35% of targets leave their jobs as a result of being bullied or experiencing other harassment at work. Let’s take a closer look at how these two concepts differ.
What is Bullying in the Workplace?
When we think of workplace bullying, the first thing that comes to mind is aggressive teasing, threatening or putting someone down in front of their co-workers. This type of bullying can happen to anyone. It usually involves a person in a position of power who abuses or intimidates a person who is less powerful.
The target of the bullying maybe someone on the same level as the aggressor, but is often someone who does not have the same amount of power or ability to defend themselves. In the workplace, bullying can be verbal or written, such as offensive emails. It can also be nonverbal, such as malicious gossip or exclusion from work activities. This type of bullying often involves a person who is angry or upset about something and takes it out on the nearest person.
What is Psychological Violence in the Workplace?
Psychological violence in the workplace is more covert than bullying. It involves creating a hostile or abusive work environment through humiliating comments or actions intended to undermine or control another person.
Unlike bullying, it is usually one-sided and not used to express anger. Instead, it is often used as a control tactic or to punish a person. Some examples of psychological violence at work include: Raising the bar so employees are unable to meet expectations Staring or glaring at someone instead of making eye contact Using threats or put-downs with no logical connection to the situation Making comments or gestures that embarrass or shame someone
Differences Between Bullying and Psychological Violence
Bullying and psychological violence have a few key differences that are important to note when trying to understand and address these problems in the workplace.
The first difference is the motivation behind the behavior. Bullying is more often a way to express anger towards the person being targeted. Psychological violence, on the other hand, is often done to gain power over someone or to punish them for something.
Another difference is that bullying is often a repeated, ongoing activity, while psychological violence may happen just once or be something someone does occasionally. The frequency of the behavior also differs depending on the type of behavior. Bullying is generally more frequent and consistent than psychological violence.
Employer Responsibilities for Addressing These Problems
The employer has a responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy work environment. This includes taking steps to address any workplace bullying or psychological violence. While these two issues are often discussed together, they are very different and involve different strategies to resolve the issue.
Bullying can be addressed with a combination of education, policies and discipline. This often involves discussing the issue with the person who is engaging in the bullying behavior, possibly with a trained human resources representative or another staff member. It may also include writing a disciplinary action against the bully and documenting the issue.
Bullying and psychological violence are related but distinct workplace problems that have serious negative effects on employees and work culture.
The key to preventing these problems is to create an open and inclusive work environment that encourages employees to talk about their concerns.
Employers can take these steps to address these issues:
Define what constitutes these behaviors: bullying, psychological violence and other forms of harassment.
Create policies and procedures to address these issues.
Educate employees about the importance of these policies and procedures and give them the tools they need to address these issues.
Create an open and supportive work environment where employees feel safe to express themselves and know how to address their concerns.