Emtrain Blog

3 Hidden Costs of Workplace Bullying

Posted by Phyllis Cheng

March 6, 2015


Workplace bullying that's unrelated to a protective basis and short of harassment is not actionable. Nonetheless, at least 27% of today’s professionals have experienced bullying in the workplace. This means, in all likelihood, many employees in your office have been affected by abusive conduct. Bullying doesn’t just destroy morale and create a negative working environment, it damages your business. Keep reading to learn the hidden cost bullying has on your business.

3 Reasons to Stop Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying, or its legal definition "abusive conduct," kills productivity, damages your employer brand, and can lead to costly lawsuits. Here are three reasons you should put an immediate stop to bullying in your organization:

1. Bullying kills productivity and morale

When an employee feels uncomfortable or emotionally unsafe at work, their work suffers. A recent survey about workplace bullies found that:

  • two-thirds of employees surveyed say that workplace bullies lead to low employee morale
  • 42% say bullies cause other employees to become isolated and work alone instead of collaborating
  • 40% say bullies decrease the quality of the company's work
  • one-third say bullies cause employees to be unable to get their own work done

Watch this video to see just how demoralizing bullying can be.


2. Bullying damages your brand

When your employees aren’t happy, they aren’t making good ambassadors for your company brand. Remember that unhappy employees don’t stick around for long. Low retention rates reflect poorly on your company and that means having to spend more time and money to replace talent.

3. Bullying leads to lawsuits

Bullying isn’t illegal at this time, but it can be used to fuel the fire of a harassment or discrimination claim. Keep in mind, it is illegal to harass or discriminate against someone based on a protected basis (e.g. race, age, gender, religion). So, bullying tied to a protective basis could very easily escalate into harassment, which can lead to costly legal fees for your company, not to mention the negative PR it can bring. 

Now for some good news

By taking a proactive approach to preventing workplace harassment, you can discourage workplace bullying in your organization by educating your employees to identify and stop abusive conduct in its tracks. The most effective way to do this? Interactive training for both employees and managers. Creating a professional and respectful workplace is the best practice.

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Phyllis_Cheng  Phyllis Cheng            

Phyllis is an employment law expert and a partner at DLA Piper, the largest global law firm. Before joining DLA Piper, Phyllis was the Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the largest state civil rights agency in the United States. During her nearly seven-year tenure at DFEH, the agency took in 140,000 complaints and prosecuted between 400-500 cases, including several class complaints. 


Do you have a question for Phyllis Cheng? Leave a comment or email her at experts@emtrain.com.

Topics: HR Compliance, Preventing Harassment