Employee Abuse in the Workplace

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Employee abuse in the workplace is an unfortunate part of daily working life for some people. Abuse can take a number of forms, but it always results in the victim becoming stressed and depressed. In extreme cases, employees may reach the point where they wish to vent their anger in a violent or self-harming way. Abuse in the workplace can be stopped and prevented to ensure a healthy working environment.

Definition

  • The Business Dictionary defines abuse as "maltreatment resulting in emotional, mental or physical injury to its victim." An employee can be picked on by either colleagues or managers, which can make the victim's working life unbearable.

Types

  • As mentioned in the Business Dictionary definition of abuse, employee abuse can take a number of forms. Verbal and emotional abuse can arise in the form of bullying, put-downs, intimidation, lying or being made to feel insignificant.

    In extreme cases, the abuse can be physical, ranging from shoving and pushing to actual bodily harm. This, along with verbal and emotional abuse, is unacceptable and must be stopped at all costs.

Reasons

  • Bullies act abusively for a number of reasons. A bully may want to assert his presence and feel authoritative or he may be seeking revenge against the victim for a past act he feels was unfair. Some may act abusively as a reaction to feeling threatened by the victim in the sense that the victim is better at his or her job than the bully. Others may act in a bullying manner because they are the victim of abuse themselves and wish to vent their frustrations on colleagues or staff that are deemed to be inferior.

Consequences

  • Recipients of abuse feel devalued, insecure, withdrawn and ashamed, and this can result in a lack of motivation and low self-esteem. In severe cases, this can develop into strong feelings of self-loathing, or the victim may vent his anger through violence or self-harm.

    The company also suffers when employee abuse is present. It will experience increased staff turnover and low morale, which leads to low productivity. Organizations also will spend an increased amount of time in resolving conflicts or even money in compensation claims, if the company is deemed negligent in its obligation to protect employees.

Prevention/Solution

  • The recipients of abuse must inform their managers at the earliest opportunity, presenting them with logs of the abuse incidents. Many organizations have guidelines and procedures in place through which the victims of abuse can anonymously inform higher management of the incidents taking place.

    If this is unsuccessful, legal proceedings can be taken against both the company and the individual administering the abuse.

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References

  • Photo Credit depressive boy image by Frenk_Danielle Kaufmann from Fotolia.com
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