New research shows how often the target of bullying at work not only leads to health-related problems, but can also encourage victims to behave poorly.
The study, led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) in collaboration with Uninettuno Telematic International University in Italy, found that in some cases this is characterized by a lack of solutions to solve problems and avoid coping. For example, drinking alcohol with a problem, often experiencing very negative emotions, such as anger, fear and sadness, and high work & moral withdrawal, which refers to the way individuals rationalize their actions and take responsibility for relieve consequences.
Bullying is one of the most important occupational stresses for employees and the effects can endanger their development and health, as well as interfere with achieving both personal and professional goals.
It is usually differentiated as work-related and personally-related bullying. The first refers to bullying that affects work pressure – for example, removing responsibility – and work processes, such as attacks on someone's professional status. The latter refers to both indirect – for example, exclusion and isolation – and direct negative behavior, such as physical abuse.
Although previous research has shown a link between the target of bullying and behavioral problems, this study first identified different configurations of victims by considering not only exposure to and types of bullying, but also health problems and bad behavior.
The study also investigated how these groups differ in terms of experiencing negative emotions in relation to work, coping strategies and moral withdrawal.
Published in the magazine Personality and individual differences, the study was led by Dr. Roberta Fida, an associate professor of work psychology at the UEA Norwich Business School. She said: "All in all, our results show that not only exposure to and types of bullying, but also the associated consequences, should be considered." In particular, the findings emphasize that victimization is not only related to health problems, but also with a greater chance of non-bullying. behave in accordance with the expected social and organizational standards.
"The greater the intensity of bullying and the more exposure to different types of bullying, the greater the chance of participating in counterproductive behavior in the workplace." Moreover, the results show that health-related symptoms are not always associated with experiences with bullying. while those who experienced limited work-related bullying did not report any health problems, those who were not bullied did commit themselves. "
The authors say that the importance of emotions must be taken into account in HR and management intervention policy. "Despite the evidence that the relevance of emotions in coping with aggression in the workplace is recognized, this is rarely incorporated into guidelines," said Dr. Fida. "In addition, it is essential to promote behavioral regulation strategies to reduce moral withdrawal, as well as negative compensatory behavior, such as drinking alcohol and taking more risks. Its role to allow & # 39; otherwise good & # 39; behavior would generally be misjudged, is further confirmed in this study. "
The researchers asked 1019 Italian employees about their experiences with workplace bullying, counterproductive behavior and health complaints. They were also asked about their coping strategies, negative emotions experienced at work and moral withdrawal.
Five groups were identified, including victims of bullying at work and often exposed to bullying due to personal problems, experiencing high health problems and misconduct (4.4% of the sample).
Another group experiences work-related bullying, but less frequent bullying due to personal issues and shows lower health problems and misconduct (9.6%). Although they generally use problem solving strategies, they tend to be overwhelmed by the negative emotions they experience and are unable to control them. They also have a tendency to release morally.
A third group has limited exposure to bullying at work and no exposure to personal bullying (22.3%). Although they do not experience any health problems, they sometimes have counterproductive work behavior.
A fourth group includes those who are not bullied, but who have high health-related symptoms and some misconduct (23.9%). The last identified groups are not exposed to bullying, have no health symptoms or behavioral problems (39.9%).
Research of the groups in relation to individual dimensions emphasized the crucial role of negative emotions and emotional regulation, independent of exposure to bullying at work. In more serious cases, moral withdrawal and compensatory behavior play an equally important role, indicating that individuals' ability to regulate their behavior is weakened.