In recent years, there has been a noticeable rise in bullying, and the workplace is no exception. In fact, it has become such a pervasive issue, with such profound effects, that it is considered an extreme threat to the health and wellness of all businesses. Many argue that bullying is not only the newest form of discrimination in the workplace, but that it should also be recognized as a form of corruption.
The mishandling of bullying complaints and the inability of organizations to effectively provide support for employees have led to the widespread growth of workplace bullying. From physical aggression to unfavorable treatment, bullying has become an increasingly problematic issue that companies must now face. This is especially true considering the health and safety risks to employees and the immense organizational costs through loss of resources and poor performance. Often incredibly distressing to victims, bullying also poses threats to individual health, personal and professional relationships, and can even interfere with career development.
In the past, institutional corruption has typically been defined as blatant illegal acts, including fraud, embezzlement, and extortion. However, this narrow definition fails to encompass all of the complexities that truly define corruption. Researchers now define corruption not only in terms of illegal acts, but also misuse of authority to violate personal rights and workplace norms, misuse of resources for gain, and other oftentimes legal activities that impede an individual’s ability to succeed.
WORKPLACE BULLYING AS CORRUPTION
The author provided several examples of workplace bullying that may also be considered corruption:
- Abusing power through information withholding, manipulation, and misdirection. This makes it difficult for employees to complete work and for organizations to distribute resources.
- Misuse of power in influencing employment processes like hiring or salary (for example, nepotism), or enacting policies that harm employees’ professional status, job satisfaction, or physical and emotional well-being.
- Participating in or encouraging unscrupulous behaviors or practices that thwart others’ efforts.
- Attempting to control employees through purposeful isolation, drastic reduction of workload, or through harassment and intimidation. This may include misusing private information to humiliate, undermine, or isolate employees.
WHY SHOULD ORGANIZATIONS CARE?
Why should organizations care about workplace bullying? There is burgeoning awareness of the severe consequences bullying behaviors have, not only on victims’ physical, emotional, and mental health, but also on the role of bullying in undermining organizational success. Ultimately, more research in this area will provide greater understanding on how bullying may affect employee retention, development of healthy workplaces, as well as employee motivation and wellness. In the meantime, practitioners should recognize the potentially harmful effects of bullying, and strive to reduce its prevalence in the workplace.
Vickers, M.H. (2014). Towards Reducing the Harm: Workplace Bullying as Workplace Corruption—A Critical Review. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 26(2), 95-113.