APA Center for Organizational Excellence: workplace-bullying

Resources for Employers

Workplace Bullying

In a major national survey, 35 percent of American adults reported that they have experienced bullying behaviors at work and another 15 percent said they have witnessed others being bullied (Workplace Bullying Institute, 2010). Workplace bullying can have serious repercussions for employees and the organization alike. Severely bullied workers may suffer a variety of health consequences, including depression and anxiety disorders. Bullying can also diminish productivity and morale, and lead to higher absenteeism and turnover. It can even increase employee benefit costs and the risk of legal action.

On this page, you’ll find a collection of workplace bullying resources, including articles and research abstracts, book recommendations, useful statistics and links to other high-quality resources. Check out the short video about workplace bullying, below, and share it with the HR staff and managers in your organization to help get the conversation started.

Workplace bullying may be direct, such as repeated yelling and verbal humiliation, hostile glares, or silence and deliberate exclusion. Or it may be more indirect, such as behind-the-back sabotage, spreading damaging rumors, or imposing unreasonable work demands designed to make the target fail. Supervisors are the most frequent aggressors, followed by peers. In instances of mobbing, employees gang up to bully a co-worker.

Prevention is key for any organization. It starts with leaders who encourage mutual respect in the workplace and send a message that bullying and similar behaviors will not be tolerated. Organizations should educate their employees about workplace bullying and create a policy and procedures for addressing reports of bullying fairly and promptly. Consultation with legal counsel may also be advisable to ensure that liability concerns are adequately addressed.

By promoting a psychologically healthy workplace and taking steps to prevent and address negative workplace behaviors, employers can create a work environment where employees and the organization thrive.

General Overviews

U.S. Workplace Bullying: Some Basic Considerations and Consultation Interventions
By Gary Namie & Ruth Namie
Consulting Psychology Journal Special Issue: Workplace Bullying and Mobbing: Organizational Consultation Strategies (September 2009)

Workplace Bullying and Ethical Leadership
By David C. Yamada
Journal of Values Based Leadership (2008)

Prevalence Studies

Workplace Bullying Institute 2014 Survey

CareerBuilder 2012 Survey

CareerBuilder 2011 Survey

Workplace Bullying Institute 2010 Survey

Workplace Bullying Institute 2007 Survey

Resources for Employers and Consultants

Consulting Psychology Journal Special Issue: Workplace Bullying and Mobbing: Organizational Consultation Strategies (September 2009)

Search our database of professional, academic and popular press literature for articles about workplace bullying.

Resources for Targets of Bullying

The Workplace Bullying Institute

Minding the Workplace blog

The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job (2009)
By Gary Namie & Ruth Namie
In this completely updated new edition based on an updated survey of workplace issues, the authors explore new grounds of bullying in the 21st century workplace. Gary and Ruth Namie, pioneers of the Campaign Against Workplace Bullying, teach the reader personal strategies to identify allies, build their confidence and stand up to the tormentor – or decide when to walk away with their sanity and dignity intact.

Resources for Mental Health Professionals

Grown-up Bullying, Counseling Today (March 2013)
By Lynne Shallcross

Introduction to Workplace Bullying for Mental Health Practitioners – Instructional DVD (2013)
By Jessi Eden Brown

Books on Workplace Bullying

Titles and descriptions come from the APA Center for Organizational Excellence’s Amazon Associates Store.

Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice (2011)
Edited by Stale Einarsen, Helge Hoel, Dieter Zapf & Cary L. Cooper
Edited by leading experts and presenting contributions from pioneers in their respective subject areas, the book is an up-to-date research-based resource on key aspects of workplace bullying and its remediation. The book presents a comprehensive review of the literature, the empirical findings, the theoretical developments, and the experience and advice of leading international academics and practitioners. The book explores a variety of explanatory models and presents available empirical evidence that sheds light on where, when and why bullying develops. It contains a wide range of contributions on the possible remedies for prevention and minimization of the problem for management when it occurs, and for healing the wounds and scars it may have left on those exposed.

Preventing Workplace Bullying: An Evidence-Based Guide for Managers and Employees
By Carlo Caponecchia & Anne Wyatt (2011)
Workplace bullying is more common and costly than most people realize. It can make life unbearable for employees in any industry and ultimately undermine an organization’s potential for profit. In this practical guide, Carlo Caponecchia and Anne Wyatt explain how to identify workplace bullying and apply best practices to its prevention and management. Caponecchia and Wyatt outline what constitutes bullying at work, demystify some of the controversial issues and discuss the various factors which influence workplace bullying. The responsibilities of management, and legal implications are outlined and supported with best practice guides for policies, complaints procedures and risk management systems.

Workplace Bullying: Symptoms and Solutions (2012)
Edited by Noreen Tehrani
This book explores the impact of bullying from the perspective of both the employee and the organization in which they work. In addition to describing the negative outcome of bullying, Workplace Bullying also looks at ways to promote resilience and the opportunity for growth and learning to take place. Divided into four sections, this book covers: the impact and symptoms of workplace bullying; individual interventions; organizational interventions and underlying causes and future considerations.

The Violence-Prone Workplace: A New Approach to Dealing with Hostile, Threatening, and Uncivil Behavior (2001)
By Richard V. Denenberg & Mark Braverman
Almost every week reports of violence erupting in the workplace make headlines. Contrary to popular opinion, such incidents are not random and senseless but, according to Richard V. Denenberg and Mark Braverman, typically result from conflict that has been allowed to fester. Combining the insights of both crisis management and dispute resolution, their book presents a comprehensive look at the problem of violence on the job, including ways of preventing it. The authors describe underlying factors in the workplace which can foster extreme behavior and prevent an effective response. Calling for early intervention in situations that could result in violence, they suggest specific techniques for reducing the risk that arises from threats or a climate of hostility. An extensive appendix provides government guidelines and sample policies intended to serve as templates for violence-prevention plans.

Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace (1999)
By Noa Davenport, Ruth Distler Schwartz & Gail Pursell Elliott
Every day, capable, hardworking, committed employees suffer emotional abuse at their workplace. Some flee from jobs they love, forced out by mean-spirited co-workers, subordinates or superiors — often with the tacit approval of higher management. Mobbing is a “ganging up” by several individuals, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, discrediting and particularly, humiliation. Mobbing affects the mental and physical health of victims. It extracts staggering costs from victims, their families and from organizations. This book helps readers understand what mobbing is, why it occurs, how it affects a victim and organizations and what people can do. An overview of the literature and research is provided, as well as many practical strategies to help the victims, managers, healthcare workers and legal professionals.

Mobbing: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions (2012)
By Maureen Duffy & Len Sperry
Duffy and Sperry provide a wealth of research to demonstrate the devastating toll that mobbing takes on its victims, their families and the organizations where it occurs. The authors painstakingly avoid simplistic solutions to mobbing, such as removing the “bad apples,” and instead, move the conversation forward by showing how bold and compassionate organizational leadership is required to improve conditions for the benefit of both individuals and their organizations.

Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression and Bullying (2014)
By Maureen Duffy & Len Sperry
Overcoming Mobbing is an informative, comprehensive guidebook written for the victims of mobbing and their families. In an engaging and reader-friendly style, mobbing experts Maureen Duffy and Len Sperry help readers to make sense of the experience and mobilize resources for recovery. Demystifying the experience of mobbing through the use of examples and case studies, Overcoming Mobbing provides effective strategies for recovery from mobbing as well as for prevention. More than a simple self-help book, this guide offers a detailed presentation of the causes and consequences of mobbing, helps readers avoid falling into the trap of misplacing blame and holds organizations at the center of responsibility for preventing this devastating type of abuse. In addition to those who have experienced mobbing, this book is a valuable resource for managers and human resources personnel who wish to prevent or reverse mobbing within their own professional settings.

The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job (2009)
By Gary Namie & Ruth Namie
In this completely updated new edition based on an updated survey of workplace issues, the authors explore new grounds of bullying in the 21st century workplace. Gary and Ruth Namie, pioneers of the Campaign Against Workplace Bullying, teach the reader personal strategies to identify allies, build their confidence and stand up to the tormentor – or decide when to walk away with their sanity and dignity intact.

The Bully-Free Workplace: Stop Jerks, Weasels, and Snakes From Killing Your Organization (2011)
By Gary Namie & Ruth Namie
A guidebook for employers that discusses workplace bullying. Managers will learn how and why to stop bullying; prepare executives to lead the campaign and to resist undermining efforts of subordinates; and create a new, positive role for human resources. Outlining the required steps, The Bullying-Free Workplace includes information on how to create a preventive policy that brings consequences, when violated. The authors discourage half-hearted, short-term fixes that are prevalent today, and present a methodology to successfully protect employee health.

Workplace Bullying: What we know, who is to blame, and what can we do? (2001)
By Charlotte Rayner, Helge Hoel & Cary L. Cooper
A variety of well publicized surveys have revealed that workplace bullying is an issue endemic in working life in Britain; and, at a conservative estimate, over half the working population can expect to experience bullying at work (either directly by being bullied, or through witnessing it) at some stage in their careers. The recognition of the problem and the emergence of court cases, have both served to focus employers on the need to deal with the issue. Workplace Bullying is derived from the largest survey ever carried out on workplace bullying, supported by the CBI, TUC, Federation of Small Businesses, IPD and the HSE among others. This study covered 5,500 people, but the book goes beyond it to explore all the issues associated with what is becoming a major issue in organizations.

Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (2007)
By Paul Babiak & Robert D. Hare
Researchers Paul Babiak and Robert Hare have long studied psychopaths. Hare, the author of Without Conscience, is a world-renowned expert on psychopathy, and Babiak is an industrial-organizational psychologist. Recently the two came together to study how psychopaths operate in corporations, and the results were surprising. They found that it’s exactly the modern, open, more flexible corporate world, in which high risks can equal high profits, that attracts psychopaths. Snakes in Suits is a compelling, frightening and scientifically sound look at exactly how psychopaths work in the corporate environment: what kind of companies attract them, how they negotiate the hiring process and how they function day by day.

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (2007)
By Robert I. Sutton
In a landmark Harvard Business Review essay, Stanford Professor Robert Sutton showed how assholes weren’t just an office nuisance, but a serious and costly threat to corporate success and employee health. In his book, Sutton reveals their huge cost in today’s corporations, shows how to spot them and provides a “self-test.” And he offers tips that you can use to keep your “inner jerk” from rearing its ugly head. Sutton then uses in-depth research and analysis to show how managers can eliminate mean-spirited and unproductive behavior to generate a newly productive-workplace.

Professional Associations & Membership Organizations

American Psychological Assocation

International Association on Workplace Bullying & Harassment

Society for Occupational Health Psychology

Society for Human Resource Management

Events

Work, Stress and Health Conference – Convened by the American Psychological Association, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology

Biennial IAWBH Bullying Conference – Convened by the International Association on Workplace Bullying & Harassment

Articles from the American Psychological Association

Recognizing and Confronting Workplace Bullying

Bullying by Any Other Name

Stop office bullying

Still wearing the ‘kick me’ sign

Bullying stems from fear, apathy

Worrying for a living?

Banishing Bullying

Bullying more Harmful than Sexual Harassment on the Job, Say Researchers

The American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David C. Yamada, JD, Holly Siprelle, Debbie Grant and Tara Davis in developing this resource page.

The content provided above is for informational purposes only. The inclusion of any product, service, vendor or organization does not imply endorsement, recommendation or approval by the American Psychological Association, the APA Center for Organizational Excellence or the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

"This is not pie in the sky; this is about the bottom line. Building psychologically healthy workplaces isn't just the right thing to do, it's also the smart thing to do."

The Honorable Alexis M. Herman
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor