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Articles & Press Releases > Article 113

So - What if a Company Has a Workplace Bully?

If an employee at a company is doing well in his performance, what does it matter whether he is subtly bullying one or more employees?

If he makes the company money or saves the company money, shouldn’t the company leave things as they are and not rock the boat?

That’s the mindset of many leaders in companies across the world. And if they’d claim it isn’t actually their mindset, it certainly plays out in their actions.

The biggest costs to keeping a subtle workplace bully on staff show up downstream. It is in regard to the targets of bullying and the witnesses to bullying.

There are costs incurred by a company when an employee quits. A normal turnover rate is 5%. It costs between 20% and 30% of a worker’s annual salary to replace a worker who quits.

Of people who are bullied, 25% leave the company. In addition, typically there are an average of two witnesses to the bullying and 20% of them leave the company.

Some of you are doing math in your heads. Needing to replace people who left because of the presence of a bully at the company is one type of cost of keeping a bully on staff.

Targets of bullying experience many different types of stress symptoms. All of these symptoms lead to more illnesses, and thus, more time off. Of course, employee productivity is lower when a bully is allowed to flourish. This is another expense to a company that chooses to keep a bully around.

Some corporate bullies are so bad that employees have sued the company, either for how the bully treated them or for that plus wrongful termination. And those companies still keep these bullies on staff. In these scenarios they’re spending money on legal fees to defend themselves against the targets in order to protect the bully.

Wouldn’t it have been better if they had either fired the bully in the first place or started some type of program to re-train the bully in order to show the target they’re serious about creating a bully-free environment and that the bullying will stop?

The last cost to the company is, in fact, re-training for the bully. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a step in the right direction. This is the only area where I think a company should consider spending money in terms of the bully. If it doesn’t work, though, the bully has to go.

All of the other costs I’ve outlined above are wastes of money.

I, of course, think we should care about how people are treated at our businesses and it shouldn’t matter if keeping a bully on staff costs us an extra dollar per year. It’s one dollar too much.

But it costs a lot more than a buck. If nothing else, we should care about the financial cost of keeping a bully on staff.


Check out Glory's book, "Not All Bullies Yell and Throw Things: How to Survive a Subtle Workplace Bully" on Amazon by clicking here!

©2015 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.

Glory Borgeson, President
2012 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.

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