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reflecting on our losses

Psychological abuse at work is an epidemic impacting a huge swathe of the American workforce. An estimated 48.6 million Americans are bullied on the job. While it’s estimated that 30 percent of workers are targets of bullying, another staggering 19 percent witness it. Nearly half of our workforce is exposed to bullying. The losses our nation faces from workplace bullying and mobbing are staggering (https://workplacebullying.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021-Full-Report.pdf).

Losses

Targets of on-the-job psychological abuse:
  • Suffer from damage to their psychological and physical health. They experience anxiety, guilt, shame, confusion, fear, paranoia, lack of self-worth, and grief, along with depression and many other problems stemming from abuse. Constant stress can cause trauma and PTSD and lead to a host of health problems, from cardiovascular disease to immunological issues and substance abuse.
  • Frequently lose their jobs, careers, and means of livelihood and face serious financial consequences.The odds of having to voluntarily or involuntarily leave a job are far greater for targeted employees. Researchers have found that over the long-term, targets are at a significantly higher risk of being expelled, not only from the workplace but from working life itself. Targets and their families are thrown into a financial crisis. They typically lose health insurance when they need more care than ever.
  • Lose or endure strains to their personal relationships. Bullies isolate targets from their co-workers, turning them against the targeted employee or instilling fear of being bullied if they maintain ties with the target. Chronic stress caused by unabated violence and its resulting mental injury harm relationships with family and friends.
In the worst case scenario, employers drive targets to suicide when they direct the violence experienced at work to themselves and lose hope for a way out. In recent years, workplace suicides have increased dramatically, rising 39 percent between 2000 and 2019, and toxic work cultures may play a significant role in the rise (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/27/us-workplace-suicide-rates-pandemic). Others who lose:
  • Family and friends lose a beloved spouse, parent, sibling, child, or friend to physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral problems, and in some cases, death, whether because of poor health or suicide. Family members particularly bear the brunt of pent-up rage, shame, hostility, and hopelessness or suffer from neglect when the target withdraws. 
  • Witnesses to workplace bullying experience the same health difficulties as targets. Their problems are less intense, but one-quarter of witnesses experience moderate to severe stress (https://www.brandeis.edu/faculty-senate/ongoing-work/dignity-at-work/pdfs/dignity-at-work-task-torce-final-report-with-proposals-april22-2019.pdf).
  • Employers face negative impact, too – diminished morale, lower productivity, damage to reputation or brand, increased sick time, employee turnover, and higher legal costs. American corporations alone are said to lose billions of dollars annually because of workplace abuse.

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We believe America’s workers have a right to safe workplaces where their psychological health is recognized as a vital component of their overall well-being. All people – regardless of their gender, race, disabilities, sexual orientation, age, income, faith, and political affiliations – deserve to lead healthy and productive lives and to work in safe environments free from abuse and oppression.

 

We are part of End Workplace Abuse, which strives to protect and promote workers’ right to psychological wellness – critical to physical health, by advocating for the elimination of abusive behaviors (bullying, mobbing, and harassment) from the American workplace. We achieve our mission by organizing and leading a collective movement advocating for psychological safety at work. We lobby for protective legislation and policies, raise public awareness about psychological harm at work, build leaders who campaign for abuse-free workplaces, and collaborate with other organizations advancing workers’ rights. Because bias and prejudice are often an integral part of workplace abuse, we advocate for protections against discrimination.

 

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