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Speaking as a bullied employee of the largest healthcare agency on the east coast of Wisconsin, it might be difficult for some to understand why a person would stay in a position where they are bullied and hurt and humiliated. While it is happening, the victim wonders what they did wrong, tries to 'fix' themself, and often works harder -- thinking that might stop what is happening to them -- when really it just exacerbates it! The person loses confidence in themselves, their skills and ability to do anything at all.

Instead of rallying around the bullied employee, fearful coworkers begin mobbing the bullied worker, leading to further degradation, humiliation, pain, lonliness and isolation.

There needs to be ACTION NOW! Either in some sort of mandatory education (EEO, ADA, whatever!). Though more legislation may be burdensome, it may be the only way to be able to bring this horrifying activity to a reversal or at least some sort of educated standstill!

I firmly believe a victim of bullying that does not have good family and medical support may potentially become a vigilante, taking matters into their own hands to gain some power and control, depressed/suicidal, or ill/missing work.

Explore the reason for workplace violence or suicidal workers (either successful or not) and I bet one would find a bullied and mobbed employee without support at the other end.

Wally Bock

Great organizations like the Marines or GE try to inculcate in their leaders that they have two jobs. One is to accomplish the mission. The other is to care for their people. If you're going for long term competitive advantage and profitability you need both. If all you're after is short term financial results, the "care for your people" part doesn't matter as much.


One reason why managers behave this way is because they think they can get away with it (and most of the time they do). One way to stifle it, is for upper management to appoint an "ombudsman", where co-workers can forward complaints in trust. The ombudsman should keep the source of the complaints confidential, when he/she reports to upper management. The ombudsman then works as a kind of safety valve for the environment.

Bob Sutton

Thanks for the two insightful comments. Brain, the company that conducted it was was Zogby at I looked at the range of work that the do, and they do seem to be committed to objectivity. For example, they do work for both parties and seem to do work on different sides of different issues, and they do seem to not overstate things. Although there is always the concern that WBI was the sponsor of the of the survey, and they have some interest in raising concern about the issue. But that is an issue in all research, including by academics who are always resistant to data that clash with their pet theories.

Brian, good luck with your job search!



Been a silent reader of your blog for a few months. Just wanted to note that I took this poll. I felt that it was well done. The questions weren't misleading like most political polls nowadays. Unfortunately my company is infamous (locally) for bullying, and I had quite a bit to report.
I'm looking forward to looking at the full report.
And yes, I'm looking for a new job. :)



I believe it all comes to accountability. If employers are not going to be accountable for the destructive behavior of their employees then maybe regulations should be put in place. I would imagine that companies are more concerned with the bottom line than if their managers are assholes. However, I would argue their bottom line would be better off if their employees are excited to make the company profitable.

20mm employees out of jobs isn't a minor issue, this is something that needs to be addressed. The first time asshole harassment is addressed in court, I believe there will be a paradigm shift. I would hope this could be resolved without lawsuits, but chances are slim.

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