Being Belittled and Picked On–All in a Day’s Work

Remember that punk at school who was shoving the smaller kids and taking their lunch money?  Turns out that juvenile bullying behavior has a grown-up workplace version, and it’s surprisingly common. 

According to a recent survey by MyPerfectResume of over 1,000+ Americans, a shocking 79% of working professionals have indirectly experienced or witnessed bullying at work.  A full 66% of employees have personally become victims of workplace bullying (69% of women and 63% of men).

Bullying is a repeated pattern of negative behavior targeting a person or group.

The perps.

Just who are these people who want to belittle others to feel better about themselves? Bosses would seem to fit the bill. They have the upper hand, right? Nope. More than half (52%) of the bullies are coworkers. The respondents reported that the bullying behavior came from bad bosses 33% of the time.

That Nancy who brought in the brownies might actually be a wolf in sheep’s clothing…beware!

Should you be looking over your shoulder?

Watch out if you’re a bit green at your job. Sixty-one percent of newbies with only 1-2 years at a workplace reported being victims of bullying. Whereas veterans with 11-20 years were the safest, with “only” 49% being bullied.

There’s a striking difference in terms of gender too: 66% of females reported being picked on and undermined vs. 55% of males.

Sheesh!  What the heck is going on in workplaces?

Well, it isn’t pretty according to the respondents:

  • Being picked on or getting regularly undermined – 60%
  • Becoming a victim of malicious rumors – 30%
  • Having someone interfere with your work – 29%
  • Receiving aggressive texts, emails, or phone calls – 23%
  • Getting your work sabotaged – 12%

Are these scoundrels getting away with this malicious behavior?  Sadly, many do.  It isn’t surprising that many of the victims of vindictiveness—49% in fact, are too intimidated to report the behavior.

The silver lining.


Those 51% who are reporting the bullying behavior say the bullies are facing consequences. Bullies are reprimanded (48%) and sometimes even get the Apprentice treatment with “You’re fired!” (28%).

And, for those who switched from working in the office to remote work, 54% of the respondents who had been bullied said that things have improved.

That silver lining? Umm…did I mention the dark cloud?

A disturbing finding came out of the survey: a full 47% of employees have called it quits at work due to bullying.

They had tons of reasons to escape the toxicity:

  • High-stress levels – 46%
  • Deteriorated performance – 25%
  • Inability to concentrate –21%
  • Sleep loss – 21%
  • Incapacity to make decisions – 20%

The stomach-clenched employees enduring bullying often leave their jobs because of it. “Nearly half of Americans will quit their job within one year or less if faced with a bully,” says the MyPerfectResume study. A whopping 56% for those with low-income jobs.

Sounding all-too-familiar?

If you’re reading this wondering if you’re being bullied, there are signs to watch out for and things not to do(like blaming yourself, for one).  Please do keep notes of the behavior—documentation can be useful as evidence— and inform someone whom you trust at a higher level and seek advice.

If you work in HR or if you’re a leader, it’s quite possible someone in your organization is being bullied. Make sure your employees feel they can come to you to discuss any issues they’re having. Consider offering bullying-awareness training and take a zero-tolerance approach to this detrimental behavior.

Don’t let your workplace be lax about bullying—even in its subtle forms.  It’s a culture-killer and bad for business monetarily as well (sticker shock comes with the new hires you’ll need to find, onboard, and train.)

About the author of this article:

Jen Pieniazek is a digital writer and career expert at ResumeLab. Her passion for helping others achieve their career goals is what inspires her advice pieces. With extensive experience in educational management and intercultural communication, Jen wants to help people from every background to find their perfect job.

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