Thursday, December 18, 2008

Workplace Bullying & Suicide

Molly stood at the edge of the subway platform as a train roared down the tracks toward her, its headlights breaking through the darkness of the tunnel. As metal screeched against metal, a wild, almost uncontrollable impulse overtook her: to throw herself on the tracks and end the pain.

Like many others before her, Molly had reached a breaking point. It wasn’t financial crisis that drove her there, nor unrequited love, nor the death of a loved one, but a boss who tormented her each day at work, creating a work environment that by now had become unbearable.

Molly is one of countless employees who have considered or committed suicide because of emotional abuse in the workplace. Unable to see a way out, whether in the form of a different job or an end to the abuse in their current positions, such individuals will tell you that the abuse overshadows their entire lives.

A few years ago, I was on two call-in television shows which addressed the issues of workplace stress and workplace bullying. A few callers shared personal stories regarding their desire to commit suicide because they could no longer take the abusive attitudes and behaviours of bosses and co-workers.

The callers believed that the only way out of the situation was to commit suicide. My heart went out to these individuals, as I listened to their accounts of emotional abuse and their desire to end their lives because of the abuse.

Even as a speaker and author who has extensively researched employee abuse in the workplace, I was outraged. Emotional abuse receives less public attention than other occupational hazards, such as faulty equipment and exposure to toxic chemicals. But emotional abuse is no less dangerous, and unfortunately is rampant even in organizations that might appear progressive and employee-friendly from the outside.

Employee emotional abuse manifests itself as bullying, whether in the form of loud, emotionally-charged tirades in the presence of other employees, or words of contempt delivered quietly in private, so that no one but the victim hears.

Emotional abuse can be as subtle as a negative, discriminatory attitude or as dramatic as a series of workplace “incidents” culminating in outright assault. Sometimes emotional abuse involves behind-the-scenes power plays that ensure that targeted employees are barred from promotions, or even lose their jobs.

Many organizations ignore emotional abuse until tragedy strikes, whether in the form of an employee taking his or her own life, or that of co-workers.

During the aftermath of such an event, the organization may “crack down” on abuse, and some previously abusive individuals may be sobered enough by the tragedy to keep their negativity in check of their own accord. Too often, though, the wakeup call is temporary and individuals soon resort to their previous attitudes and behaviours.

My book, Hope For A Healthy Workplace, which is now available as an audio book, addresses the issues of emotional abuse in the workplace, and workplace bullying. It introduces the readers to a new leadership model, a model I created as a result of research I conducted. The book gives the reader a glimpse at how such behaviour creates an unhealthy workplace and demotivates employees. It also provides recommendations for employees, leaders and organizations on how to create healthier workplace interactions.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Increase in Bullying

Yet another week has gone by and I have been contacted by individuals who are being bullied in their workplaces. Some have been physically assaulted, while others have been verbally or emotionally assaulted. After hearing these stories and reflecting on my own past experiences of being bullied, I felt compelled to start writing my next book and to begin researching the issue in greater detail. My first book "Hope For A Healthy Workplace" touched upon this topic, however, my next one will be solely dedicated to addressing and eliminating bullying in the workplace. Bullying in the workplace is becoming more and more rampant and I believe that it is only going to get worse as organizations go through difficult times. Those individuals who are not well liked are, unfortunately, going to be on the receiving end of abusive behavior from others. Bullies need someone to blame and so they will go after people they perceive as being weak or unimportant. If you find yourself in this situation, I encourage you to stand up to the bullies. Let them know that you are not going to be pushed around. When you value and believe in yourself, you will muster up the strength and courage to say "No. I will NOT be bullied". It isn't until you begin to take control of your life and to stand up for yourself that you will begin the journey of eliminating the bullying that currently exists. Don't believe the lies, you are somebody. You do not have to take the bullying anymore. You are a valuable human being who is worthy of being treated with dignity.

Please click on the Workplace Interaction Survey link for the online survey. Please feel free to complete the survey, thank you.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The urgency of stopping workplace bullying.

I am very concerned about employees who are being bullied in the workplace, especially those individuals who are contemplating suicide. Just the other day I received an email from a gentleman who is battling depression and contemplating suicide because of how he is being treated at work. We all must come together to stop bullying in the workplace. It is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Looking for a job

I encourage individuals who may have been recently laid off or who have been told that they will be laid off to begin to discover their true purpose in life. As you begin to seek out another job, try to choose one that is in alignment with your personal values and what you are most passionate about. Too many employees have been stuck in dead end positions and have gotten used to going to a job and expecting little satisfaction. Your next job doesn't have to be that way. I encourage you to take the time to determine what your interests are and to pursue them. You will need to be creative as you go about your job search and may have to take a cut in pay, however, if you are involved in activities in which you are passionate about, you will find a way to adjust to the decrease in pay. Trust me. I know what it is like to lose a job and to be faced with uncertainty. Though today may look bleak, please know that tomorrow will be better. You will survive the turmoil you are going through. This is a time for you to truly learn how to believe in yourself and to cling to hope. I also encourage you to have a strong support system to rely on as you go through these difficult times. You will need to have someone in your life to carry the burden and to encourage you to persevere. Looking for a job can be a lonely and frustrating process. No matter how many rejection letters you receive, don't internalize the rejection, just recognize that it is part of the process. Remain focused on your goals and eventually you will land a job. Don't give up on the job search and definitely, don't give up on yourself. You can do it!!! You are going to be just fine. Blessings.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hope For Auto Workers

The current turmoil that we are seeing with the Big Three automakers comes as no surprise to me. As long as leaders and managers continue to devalue employees and to treat them as inanimate objects, these companies will continue to struggle to survive. Leaders and managers must realize that how they treat employees has a significant impact on the organizations' bottom line. If employees are treated in a negative manner, the results of the organizations' efforts will be negative.

For several years, I worked as a supervisor for two of the automakers who are on the brink of bankruptcy. I must say that I was appalled by the way in which some managers treated employees. They belittled, harassed, and emotionally abused employees. Unfortunately, these managers were bullies and were not afraid to use their positions to intimidate both salaried and hourly employees. Prior to being employed at one of these automakers, I had not witnessed bullying in the workplace. As a result of my observations and experiences I felt compelled to write about the need to eliminate bullying in the workplace and to create more healthier workplaces.

Though some individuals have complained about the high wages the average auto workers receive, I must say that they deserve those wages because of the abuse they have to endure. Some managers are of the mindset that because employees are being paid so well, the managers can treat them any way they want because they know the employees will put up with it, as they will not be able to find a comparable wage if they were to leave the organization.

Auto workers are working in very toxic and unhealthy workplaces, which have a negative effect on their overall well being. In my book Hope For A Healthy Workplace, I seek to bring hope to employees who have been mistreated and also encourage organizations and leaders to begin to uphold the value of the employees. To all of the auto workers I encourage you to see the value in yourself and to begin to take the steps needed to eliminate bullying in your workplace. You are valuable human beings and should be treated as such by individuals who are in positions of leadership and management. Though I no longer work in the auto industry, please know that I value you and the work that you do each day.

How healthy is your organization?

A healthy organization can be defined as one that consciously seeks to create a positive work environment for all of its employees. More specifically, such an organization actively promotes and supports efforts that contribute to employees’ social, physical, emotional and mental health.
Prioritizing employee health and wellness makes good business sense for this reason: Organizational strength directly depends on employee health and wellness. Research indicates that when employees are healthy and strong, organizations are healthy and strong. When employees are unhealthy and weak, organizations are unhealthy and weak.
Unhealthy organizations have neither the strength nor the endurance to successfully compete, let alone survive in a highly competitive marketplace. In contrast, healthy organizations are likely to prosper and achieve desired goals. Here, healthy employees drive business results.
You will recognize healthy organizations by their high levels of productivity and employee involvement and their low rates of absenteeism, employee illness and injury. You’ll also find high levels of collaboration and trust in healthy organizations and a strong sense of community and partnership. In general, employee morale is positive in healthy organizations because people are committed to the corporate vision and genuinely enjoy turning that vision into reality.