Workplace Bullying Amongst Faculty and Staff: A Qualitative Study

Published: 2021/11/24
Number of words: 2704

Background of Study

Employees suffer greatly from workplace violence, and businesses suffer as well. Workplace bullying, or the repeated exposure to interpersonal aggression and abuse from co-workers, supervisors, subordinates, or other work-related individuals, is a common kind of workplace violence that poses a threat to the individual’s general health as well as the workplace structure. It has been demonstrated that it creates a toxic work atmosphere, and that this negative behavior has direct costs for both individuals and businesses (Heffernan & Bosetti, 2020). As a result, issues of worker rights, health and safety, and efficient organizational management are all involved in this workplace phenomenon.

Bullying is also ubiquitous and widespread in businesses, according to recent empirical findings, and it is on the rise in many workplaces. Workplace bullying has become a growing concern for employers, academics, and researchers due to its ubiquity and the negative consequences linked with it (Lewis, 2016). Understanding the effects of workplace bullying and harassment on job satisfaction and organizational culture may provide insight into how to safeguard employees and guarantee that their civil rights are not infringed upon. The study’s findings may provide guidance for capacity growth and, as a result, a more harmonious work environment. Leaders may be able to take a more realistic position against workplace bullying, harassment, and their effects on job satisfaction as a result of the findings (John et al., 2021). Workplace bullying is destructive not only to the individuals who are bullied, but also to non-bullied employees and the vitality of companies. Bullying, for example, has been demonstrated to lower the morale, productivity, and overall work quality of both harassed and non-bullied employees within an organization (Lever et al., 2020). Due to factors such as high rates of employee absenteeism and turnover, this undesirable conduct has the potential to have a major influence on an organization’s overall success.

Need an essay assistance?
Our professional writers are here to help you.
Place an order

As previously noted, bullying has been identified in a variety of occupational sectors and organizational responsibilities; and, in terms of gender, both men and women have been documented to be targeted for workplace abuse. Furthermore, despite the fact that workplace bullying has been proved to be common, several researchers have discovered significant variances in the prevalence of this behavior (Heffernan & Bosetti, 2020). These disparities are thought to be the outcome of differences in the organizational culture of the workplace under investigation. Furthermore, research have revealed that all forms of harassment and abuse are more widespread in workplaces with physically demanding job and among minority work groups (Lewis, 2016). In fact, workplace harassment and abuse has been found to perpetuate official and informal status hierarchies, inequality, and social exclusion.

According to several studies, workplace bullying practices and policies can create potentially hazardous and abusive settings for employees, particularly for those with conflicting gender and occupational roles. When a worker’s gender differs from the expected occupational norms for their profession, for example, he or she may be more exposed to bullying. This vulnerability is supported by research, which shows that violations of workplace gender norms are frequently linked to increased incidences of bullying (Karatuna, 2015). Bullying has been demonstrated to have different effects on men and women who are gender nonconforming, such as those who work in jobs usually undertaken by the opposing sex. Furthermore, research suggests that both structured masculinities and gendered constructs may enable or encourage ritualized forms of bullying aggressive displays of behavior toward subordinates, newly hired workers, members of minority groups, and other specifically targeted individuals in the workplace.

Given the foregoing, the current study used in-depth interviews to evaluate self-reported experiences of work-related bullying among temporary laborers and to obtain rich and extensive data regarding this organizational phenomenon. The major goal of this study was to better understand the role of worker vulnerabilities and organizational factors in the onset of workplace bullying among temporary workers, as well as to identify the perpetrators of these bad behaviours.

Statement of the Problem

According to Cranshaw (2009), workplace bullying is a widespread and significant problem that has both professional and personal consequences. Given that at least one out of every ten professionals is subjected to workplace bullying, the problem is a severe one in today’s culture that is frequently neglected or unnoticed in most workplaces (John et al., 2021). The situation is exacerbated in the United States, with reporting having a higher prevalence there than in other countries. According to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, the American culture is individualistic, male, and long-term oriented, fearful of uncertainty, and proud of power characteristics. This means that the majority of the workforce in the United States works as individuals rather than as part of a team and faces workplace inequality (Heffernan & Bosetti, 2020). Furthermore, most employees favour attributes like authority, aggressiveness, and rivalry, and they frequently postpone gratification in the hopes of receiving a larger future reward. When combined with the current economic conditions of greater rivalry, downsizing, and macho management, such a culture creates the ideal breeding environment for workplace bullying.

Workplace bullying has a significant impact on the education and academic sectors. Despite the ubiquity of bullying in organizations such as religious institutions, businesses, and hospitals, workplace bullying is also frequent in academics, according to study. Thirty-eight percent of teachers in higher education institutions said they have been bullied in the job. Despite the fact that the topic of bullying has been debated for decades, the majority of early studies on the subject focused almost entirely on school-aged children in academic contexts. However, this phenomena has only recently been recognized and examined in professional settings. Having said that, recent research have revealed that this bad behavior is widespread in organizations and may be seen at all levels of the organizational structure.

Scholars have agreed, however, that describing workplace bullying is a critical first step in understanding how this organizational behavior develops and identifying employment characteristics that affect and intensify this work-related issue (Karatuna, 2015). Researchers have also largely accepted that the acts classified as bullying, by whom, and how, are crucial concerns in constructing the concept of workplace bullying, a phenomenon that may be better defined as complex patterns of interactions rather than single incidences of behavior.

However, one of the difficulties in comprehending a complicated and broad organizational issue like workplace bullying is the plethora of labels and terminology that scholars, the media, and the general public use interchangeably when characterizing the behavior (Lever et al., 2020). The various terms used to label different types of tensions between members of an organization’s workforce, such as bullying, abuse, mobbing, negative behaviours, harassment, incivility, toxicity, violence, and aggression, have not been thoroughly defined, nor have their boundaries been clearly defined (Lever et al., 2020). Furthermore, because of the multifaceted nature of workplace bullying, its definition has varied widely throughout studies, and researchers have struggled to come up with a consensus definition (John et al., 2021). As a result, researchers, as well as bullied-workers, observers, and administrators within companies, have had a difficult time identifying and labelling bullying.

Scholars have agreed, however, that describing workplace bullying is a critical first step in understanding how this organizational behavior develops and identifying employment characteristics that affect and intensify this work-related issue (Heffernan & Bosetti, 2020). Researchers have also largely accepted that the acts classified as bullying, by whom, and how, are crucial concerns in constructing the concept of workplace bullying, a phenomenon that may be better defined as complex patterns of interactions rather than single incidences of behavior. As previously stated, a survey of the literature revealed that, despite the fact that academics have offered many definitions of workplace bullying, no single agreed-upon or acceptable term for this organizational issue exists (John et al., 2021). For example, in the United Kingdom and Europe, the term bullying has long been used to describe this pattern of abusive and unpleasant actions, whilst in Germany, the term mobbying has been used to describe the same work-related activities (Lewis, 2016). Furthermore, in the United States, some academics have categorized a comparable and frequently overlapping collection of undesirable behaviours, but they have referred to them by various labels, such as employee abuse and workplace hostility.

It’s worth noting that the person who is bullied at work frequently considers the behavior to be exceedingly disrespectful, demeaning, and unfair. Furthermore, some academics have claimed that specific definitions of bullying may marginalize particular employees’ perspectives, and studies have revealed that these workers are more likely than others to suffer self-doubt and be blamed by others for their bullying experiences (John et al., 2021). According to experts, workplace bullying is a subcategory of organizational violence that manifests itself in a variety of negative workplace behaviours and causes both emotional and physical harm to employees. Several studies have looked into these negative behaviours and thus identified the potential predictors of this type of harassment and abuse at work. Bullying frequently contains a power imbalance or a victim-perpetrator dimension, in which the target is subjected to negative behaviours in such a way that he or she is unable to defend himself or herself in the circumstance, according to several recent studies.

The consequences of bullying differ considerably from incident to incident, and it has been established that this harmful behavior has an impact on those who are directly involved in the encounter (Heffernan & Bosetti, 2020). The victim and the offender, as well as people who are indirectly involved in the experience, such as those assigned with managing or resolving the problem, onlookers, and friends and/or family members offering support to the parties involved in the bullying occurrence, are all included. Furthermore, persons who have been the victims of workplace bullying are frequently harmed financially, emotionally, or both as a result of their experiences.

Purpose of Study

There is a scarcity of research on workplace bullying in the education sector, particularly studies on teachers’ reflective narratives. As a result, the goal of this research is to add to the current body of knowledge on workplace bullying in the US education sector. The study will take a phenomenological approach, allowing teachers to discuss reflective and pre-reflective aspects of their experiences in order to raise awareness about the situation of workplace bullying victims (Karatuna, 2015). Furthermore, the research method will aid in focusing attention on the importance of the issue of workplace bullying in the education sector.

The study contributes to a variety of areas. To begin with, it offers valuable insight into the topic of workplace bullying in the education sector through discussions of real-life teacher experiences. As a result, the research can be utilized to provide a foundation for future research on workplace bullying in academia and other industries. Scholars can utilize the study’s findings to plan and determine the appropriate placement of teachers inside schools in order to strengthen relationships and prevent workplace bullying.

Bullying can have major health consequences for people who are bullied. When a person is subjected to a hostile work environment, it can result in major stress-related side effects like depression, insomnia, and anxiety (John et al., 2021). Bullying generally occurs when there are no witnesses or in front of people who will not report the bullying for fear of reprisal and being bullied themselves, according to Vickers (Heffernan & Bosetti, 2020). If the bully is someone in a position of power, witnessing bullying actions will be difficult. In addition to the detrimental effects on people’s health, studies have discovered a number of other ways that bullying has a negative influence on workers. These include a loss of work-related confidence, a fall in job enthusiasm, and a reduction in one’s financial resources. Furthermore, several studies have found that victims of bullying frequently struggle to keep commitments to the workplace where the incident occurred, and that they may lose trust in their superiors and the business as a whole (John et al., 2021). As a result, when a worker’s commitment to and trust in his or her employer deteriorates, it might show itself in a variety of work-related ways. Researchers have shown links between workplace bullying and other work-related difficulties like low job satisfaction, absenteeism, and high staff turnover.

Employee grievances, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) proceedings, and other legal ramifications may result as a result of the undesirable behavior at hand (Karatuna, 2015). For example, when workplace bullying results in a hostile work environment, an organizational condition that occurs when a legally protected worker is subjected to work-related harassment or abuse, or when a bullying incident is linked to sexual harassment, an organization may suffer significant financial losses, including the cost of investigating a worker’s claim, defending their position, and so on. Some countries, such as Sweden and Canada, have recently enacted legislation to address the problem of workplace bullying (Heffernan & Bosetti, 2020). However, in the United States, there is currently no explicit statute that controls occurrences of workplace bullying (Karatuna, 2015). Despite the fact that academics have long maintained that the current law provides insufficient remedies for preventing and resolving workplace bullying, this is the case.

Nonetheless, in varied limited ways, some legal theories have recognised or addressed the problem of workplace bullying within US corporations. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, for example, was enacted in part to maintain safe and healthy working conditions in most work-related contexts, and workplace bullying is considered an occupational hazard that can cause psychological and/or physiological injury under OSHA rules. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also offered legal protection against harassment and discrimination for a small number of protected groups. To be protected under this act, however, a worker must be able to demonstrate that they were the victim of workplace bullying as a result of their protected class status (Lewis, 2016). As a result, the majority of the workforce in the United States is not protected against workplace bullying under current anti-discrimination and harassment laws.

Worry about your grades?
See how we can help you with our essay writing service.

Because there is no legal protection against workplace bullying, some experts say that developing good employee policies within firms is the best way to avoid and resolve bully-related harassment and abuse among employees (Lewis, 2016). This line of research has found that workplace bullying is an organizational process, and that an organization’s policies, procedures, practices, beliefs, and resources impact bullying regulation, making them either permissive structures or preventive measures of bad workplace behaviours (John et al., 2021). Furthermore, some scholars have claimed that bullying in the workplace is an institutionalized behavior that should be treated as a whole rather than an individual or interpersonal problem. Indeed, some studies have suggested that it is ultimately the responsibility of organizational authorities to ensure that all employees are safeguarded from bullying and that the workplace environment is secure and free of harm for all employees (Karatuna, 2015). It is crucial to highlight, however, that most experts continue to emphasize that bullies are entirely responsible for their conduct and should be held accountable.

Permanent employees and managers on temporary-labour jobsites were the most common offenders of workplace bullying. In conclusion, this research gathered rich and extensive information on workplace bullying and found an overall commonality across the participants’ reported experiences (Heffernan & Bosetti, 2020). However, before the findings of this study can be generalized, more research on the subject is required. Finally, despite a small sample size, this preliminary study has shed light on a previously understudied group: temporary workers.

The study’s findings give educational administrators with information on the prevalence of bullying and teacher reporting trends. The study’s findings will be used to advise rules and regulations on some of the steps that may be taken to decrease workplace bullying. Finally, the research helps to raise community awareness of workplace bullying.


Heffernan, T., & Bosetti, L. (2020). University bullying and incivility towards faculty deans. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 1-20.

John, B., Bhattacharya, S., & Chawda, R. (2021). Personality Antecedents and Consequences of Workplace Bullying among Faculty Members at Higher Educational Institutes in Central India. Ilkogretim Online, 20(4).

Karatuna, I. (2015). Targets’ coping with workplace bullying: a qualitative study. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal.

Lever, I., Dyball, D., Greenberg, N., & Stevelink, S. A. (2019). Health consequences of bullying in the healthcare workplace: a systematic review. Journal of advanced nursing, 75(12), 3195-3209.

Lewis, S. E. (2016). Recognition of workplace bullying: A qualitative study of women targets in the public sector. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 16(2), 119-135.

Cite this page

Choose cite format:
Online Chat Messenger Email
+44 800 520 0055