Bullying: Workplace Discontent
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has published Workplace bullying harms both employees and employers - a well-written article that adds to the growing amount of coverage of anger and aggression in our world under the banner of bullying. Much, perhaps too much, has been made of informal learning (i.e. - learning that is commonly symbolized by a water cooler), but if we allow for the idea of informal learning then it may be that bullying is now a significant feature of that learning.
Workplace bullying harms both employees and employers makes reference to a boss that expects his subordinates to get his coffee and pick up his dry cleaning. This is a clear indication that we need better mechanisms to fire superiors. I was also naively surprised since I incorrectly thought such haute-couture-caveman-ugh-and-grunt behaviour was mostly behind us, but apparently it isn't. The definition of bullying is concisely stated as...
"Bullying is a term often used to describe any aggressive misuse or abuse of power. Not to be confused with mere differences of opinion or ordinary conflicts, bullying comprises anything that a reasonable person would consider as victimizing, humiliating, intimidating, undermining or threatening. It can range from gossip and rumours to unwarranted punishment, and from obviously offensive jokes to yelling or profanity."
Of course, the reality and practical application of the definition is a subjective mine field. In addition, it would be easy for an individual to use the old bait-and-switch technique, that is, accuse another of bullying as a means to bully them. Nevertheless, it is clear that the workplace has at least attained equal status to education in the growing patterns of bullying in society.
But is the emergence of bullying surprising?
If "a reasonable person" were to sit and watch a single news broadcast they would be flooded with examples of global "victimizing, humiliating, intimidating, undermining or threatening." It may be that the news media, with its fascination for the ugly side of living, is a source of messages that "can range from gossip and rumours to unwarranted punishment." If not the news, try driving in rush-hour traffic.
My previous entries about bullying and victimization tracked this growing concern from different perspectives. The interest I have in the problem is one that is close to home and has only recently expanded to the workplace.
But I'm left wondering... Is bullying perhaps a symptom of a much greater and more pervasive problem? I expect that it is. It is disturbing to see a growing sense of unrest in bot education systems and the workplace. Undoubtedly, there are some important things being done to help reduce the effects of the problem. Yet I wonder how much profiteering might already be under way to provide solutions that help to sustain the problem.