Workplace bullying—a form of workplace violence—is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more people (targets) by their colleagues or co-workers. Forms of workplace bullying may include verbal abuse; threatening, humiliating, intimidating, or offensive conduct; or interference and sabotage that prevents work from getting done.
Bullying can impact a victim’s physical and emotional health, morale, overall productivity, and potentially, their finances. Workplace bullies seek to induce harm, jeopardize another person’s career, and destroy interpersonal relations. Here are some typical tactics workplace bullies may use against their victims:
- Character assassination
- Disrespectful, destructive interpersonal conduct
- Work interference, preventing targets from performing their jobs
- Social exclusion of targets
- Exploitation of targets through abuse of management roles
- Personal criticisms that humiliate and shame
Impact of Bullying
Prolonged and inescapable exposure to bullying injures people. The frequency of incidents and the length of time a targeted person is exposed to distressful conditions combine to create harm to their health and wellbeing. Victims of bullying typically experience:
- Stress-related physical health consequences
- Psychological-emotional health consequences
- Strained social relations
What to Do if You are Being Bullied in the Workplace
If you are being bullied in the workplace, call attention to the bully’s action directly, calmly, and professionally. If the mistreatment continues, document the pattern of incidents and contact your Component’s Anti-Harassment Office. If you witness someone else being bullied, call attention to the behavior, offer emotional support to the target, and encourage them to report the behavior if it continues.
DHS created Violence in the Federal Workplace: A Guide for Prevention and Response with guidance on preparing for, preventing, and responding to incidents of workplace violence, including a Workplace Bullying Fact Sheet in Appendix B. You can also visit the National Workplace Bullying Institute to find current research and resources about workplace bullying.