Workplace Bullying - Health Services Officer Category

By: CDR Charlene Majersky, PhD
Lead, Overseas Recruitments/Personnel Actions
Division of Global Health Protection (proposed)
Gordon Hughes, PhD
Employee Assistance Program
November 18, 2013
promoting, and
advancing the health
and safety of the
Leadership – “Provides vision and purpose in
public health through inspiration, dedication, and
Service – “Demonstrates a commitment to public
health through compassionate actions and
stewardship of time, resources, and talents.”
Integrity – “Exemplifies uncompromising ethical
conduct and maintains the highest standards of
responsibility and accountability.”
Excellence – “Exhibits superior performance and
continuous improvement in knowledge and
1. Professional development
2. USPHS Core Values:
Leadership, Service, Integrity, and Excellence
Workplace bullying:
1. Yahoo = 2.68M hits
2. Google = 7.19M hits
3. Barnes & Noble = 98 books
4. Amazon = 1,633 books
(as of 9/24/13)
• SMEs on workplace bullying in the U.S.
• In 1997, started the research and education organization
known as the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI),
• Research articles published in scholarly journals (i.e., the
Journal of Consulting Psychology, International Journal of
Communication). Featured in >950 media interviews.
• WBI’s significant 2007 and 2010 U.S. large scale
scientific surveys of bullying, representing all adult
4.15” YouTube clip “ Dr. Gary Namie on
Workplace Bullying: What it is and is not”
The Workplace Bullying Institute
located in Bellingham, Washington, is
the first and only U.S. organization
dedicated to the eradication of
workplace bullying that combines help
for individuals through research,
education, trainings, legislative
advocacy, and offering viable
solutions to organizations.
• Psychologist and owner of a successful
coaching and development business.
• Coaches senior-level clients on complex
interpersonal issues surrounding leadership and
• Since 1994 designed and delivered 130+
executive coaching programs and 100+ tailored
professional skills workshops for leaders,
managers and employees.
Workplace bullying is defined as the recurrent illwill and abusive treatment of an employee by
another employee(s) through behaviors and
actions such as verbal abuse that is opprobrious
(abusive, derogatory, insulting, offensive,
libelous, venomous, etc.), intimidating, or
embarrassing; or sabotaging someone’s work
with vindictiveness and hatefulness, with the
intention to obstruct work productivity.
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
• Personalized attack.
• Purposed attempt by one colleague to injure
another colleague’s self-esteem, self-confidence
and reputation.
• Health-harming mistreatment.
• Threatening and intimidating behaviors that
are emotionally and psychologically punishing.
• Work sabotage.
• Repeated.
• Power.
• WBI scientific surveys, 2007 and 2010. Zogby
International randomly sampled a group of adult
5 key findings:
1. 35% of the U.S. workforce (~53.5M Americans) reported
being bullied at work.
2. Additional 15% witnessed it.
3. 62% of bullies are men; 58% of targets are women.
4. Women bullies target women in 80% of cases.
5. The majority of bullies are bosses,
abusers of power.
In studying workplace abuse there’s little valid data
about prevalence and patterns. The most useful and
rigorous surveys on bullying have been conducted by
the Namies’ Workplace Bullying Institute and
Zogby, a respected survey research firm.
The results of this research shows the large amount of
money that workplace bullying costs organizations
and the diverse ways in which such abuse damages
victims’ emotional, physical, and financial well-being.
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
These studies yield strong evidence to justify
Namies’ focus on organizations and individuals
in positions of power as root causes of workplace
The Namies show how personality and
upbringing is a significant factor in creating
individuals whom are prone to bullying their
colleagues and followers.
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
Workplace bullying is
hostile and abusive. And
abuse is potentially
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
According to The National
Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health (NIOSH),
workplace bullying is a form of
workplace violence.
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
Beware: Workplace bullying can
escalate to workplace violence.
Workplace violence is defined as any
physical assault, threatening behavior,
or verbal abuse within a work setting.
The bottom line is that
workplace bullying prevents
work from getting completed;
it’s interference. Bullying
undermines the government
agency’s mission and erodes
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
Bullying can be considered a public health calamity. It’s
a malignancy that encroaches and destroys the
workplace. Unaddressed, the problem spreads like a
virus and threatens the integrity of the organization.
Like any undesirable disease, it must be neutralized and
abrogated. An organization’s health cannot be restored
if it’s disregarded.
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
• Numerous complaints by employees.
• Notice that employees almost always agree with the supervisor.
• High staff turnover. It takes a unique type of person to succeed in
roles supporting the supervisor.
• When you are told that one or more groups of employees are
experiencing high levels of stress, you feel it’s the responsibility of
those employees to better manage their feelings and
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
• Verbal bullying tactics – i.e., repeatedly using verbal
• Nonverbal bullying tactics – i.e., using nonverbal signals
that denote disapproval.
• Practical bullying tactics – i.e., transmitting nasty emails
to a colleague.
• Performance-related bullying tactics – i.e., continued
unwarranted criticism of a colleague’s performance.
(Oade, 2009)
“The intentions of workplace
bullies are to select a colleague
against whom they will mount
a personalized campaign to
undermine them and to
employ a range of behavioral
tactics (i.e., bullying dynamic
in their relationship with you)
against them.”
(Oade, 2009)
“The bully makes the
relationship about power:
their power over you.”
(Oade, 2009)
• A person using bullying behavior may
have organizational authority over the
person they are bullying, but it DOES NOT
justify their behavior.
• Using a bullying approach is NOT EVER
an alternative to effective
• Starting point for handling bullying
behavior = cognizant that the behaviors
and attributes they use ARE NOT
excusable and DO NOT justify their tactics.
(Oade, 2009)
• Denial
• Enable
• Excuses
If workplace bullying is tolerated, the message to
the workforce is if anyone is subject to workplace
bullying, they will be left to manage the situation
on their own.
(Oade, 2009)
• Create bully-free work environment to include autonomy, individual
challenges/mastery and clarity of tasks. Encourage open door policy.
• Improve management’s ability and sensitivity towards dealing
with/responding to conflicts. Recognize bullying is happening. Trust
reports; take seriously and investigate promptly. Conduct findings of
fact analysis; intervene, if necessary. Conduct employee attitude
surveys. Hold bullies accountable!
• Support organization’s anti-bullying campaign. Hold awareness
campaigns for everyone. Create zero tolerance anti-bullying policy.
• Embrace employees’ health and well-being.
(Namie & Namie, 2011; Majersky & Hughes, 2013)
“It’s a leader’s responsibility to
create a work environment
that is free from bullying. It’s
not HR’s job! Bullying is too
serious to be left to those
without the power to compel
compliance with new
standards of practice or new
ways to behave
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
Improved staff satisfaction and retention.
Enhanced reputation for the organization.
Creates a culture of professionals.
Important role models for others.
Improves employee safety and quality of
Reduced liability exposure and management.
More civil, productive and desirable
For the bully:
1. Attend communications skills training.
2. Attend anger management courses.
3. Attend remedial supervisory skills training.
4. Be held accountable for their actions.
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
For the individual being bullied:
Goal: Equip you with the insight, knowledge, skills, interpersonal
strategies and intrapersonal awareness that will enable you to
respond to bullying behavior effectively.
1. Address bullying behavior when it happens: assert yourself, so
that you retain control of the situation as much as possible and
demonstrate to the bully that their tactics will not control you.
2. Document what is happening to you. Make a formal complaint, so
that others get involved.
3. Seek support from family and friends.
4. Eat a balanced diet.
5. Exercise regularly.
(Oade, 2009; Hughes & Majersky, 2012)
6. Plan special treats for you.
7. Seek professional help.
8. Protect your self-esteem, self-confidence and
emotional well-being.
9. Preserve your personal power and maintain
healthy boundaries.
10. Embrace faith.
11. Seek alternate employment.
(Oade, 2009; Hughes & Majersky, 2012)
• EAP services are designed for federal
employees and supervisors as well as family and
household members. Whether it’s work-related or
a personal concern, it doesn’t matter. EAP helps
to secure services to support you, your family,
and your household members.
• Federal employees can access:
counseling services
referrals and federal resources
• USPHS Commissioned Corps Instructions:
a. CC26.1.5 = Grievances (in seeking prompt
and fair resolution of issues related to working
conditions such as working environment,
working relationships with supervisors, other
personnel) dated 4/16/01.
b. CC26.1.6 = Equal opportunity:
discrimination complaints processing dated
• First resolve at lowest level; use chain of command.
• Contact agency USPHS liaison and/or CPO.
Consider the Namies’ powerful
“Do not attempt to put the bully
and target across the table from
one another to find common
ground unless the bullying has
caused no severe consequences for
the target.”
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
• Passed state legislatures in New York and Illinois.
• Bills addressed workplace bullying by prohibiting continuous, health-hazardous,
malicious, and abusive mistreatment by anyone in the workplace.
• As of April 2011, the Healthy Workplace Bill had been introduced in 21 state
• Canada has four provincial and one federal regulation addressing bullying.
• All other Western industrialized nations have laws in place.
• Soon, all U.S. employers will be required to abate and prevent bullying from
transpiring in the workplace.
• Relatedly, states will enact laws addressing workplace bullying.
(Namie & Namie, 2011)
• Develop and implement:
(1) Organizational policy; and
(2) MANDATORY ANNUAL training on
workplace bullying.
What sort of legacy do you want to leave as a USPHS
Commissioned Corps Officer and Leader?

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