Workplace bullying costs companies good employees warn The Bagg Group experts


Bullying doesn’t just happen in schools. At The Bagg Group, we’ve talked with far too many talented candidates over the years who left jobs because of workplace bullies.

It come as no surprise to us that a study by the Canadian Safety Council reports 75% of victims of bullying quit their work.

We know is that it’s not only victims who want to leave.  A UBC study confirms that workers who witness bullying have an even stronger urge to quit than those who are the targets of the bully.

“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,” says Sauder Prof. Sandra Robinson, co-author of the study published in the July edition of the journal Human Relations.

And even if there isn’t an actual mad rush to the exit door, where there is bullying, there is dramatically lower productivity and higher absenteeism than in bully-free environments.   That’s why bullies cost companies huge dollars, above the cost of replacing good employees who left because of the intolerable behaviour of an aggressor.

Over 40-plus years at The Bagg Group, we have interviewed hundreds of thousands of people to place more than 58,000 successfully in full-time positions, contract work, and temporary placement.

Our recruiters know for certain that candidates want a respectful, safe work environment, first and foremost.  It doesn’t matter how much a person makes, if they are regularly humiliated at work, they will look to leave.

Jacqueline Power at the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business has been investigating the issue for years.  She says 40% of working Canadians have experienced bullying in their working lives.

It’s not always easy to spot the problem as humiliation can happen behind closed doors, without witnesses.  In about 75% of cases, managers are the ones doing the bullying. In 25% of cases, peers are the culprits, according to researchers.

Experts say bullies can also be hard to call out because they often display an exaggerated degree of apparent respect to their boss – and to their bosses’ bosses.

The detrimental actions cover the gamut from ridiculing and discrediting a person to intimidation, exclusion, threats and unreasonable demands.

As of yet, there’s no magic bullet to stop bullying.  However, the more companies recognize workplace bullying – rather than dismiss a victim’s distress as a “personality conflict” —  the more bullies will be the ones to leave, not their targets.

At The Bagg Group, we spend much time researching and interviewing candidates to ensure they are the right fit for a client.  Here are three tips from our experts for when you are unsure if the candidate you’re interviewing has an appropriate attitude for your team.

  • Ask if the candidate ever engaged in behaviour that others might classify as ‘intimidating’ or ‘bullying’.  Of course, it seems like no one would ever answer “yes.”  But the candidate’s reaction can give you some insight into what they might consider appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.
  • Ask how the candidate has handled team members whom she/he finds difficult.   If you are uncomfortable with the language and/or attitude they use in speaking about others, you may want to probe further.
  • Look for alignment with your organization’s values.  Listen to hear if candidate values a collaborative approach that supports and encourages colleagues.

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