Employees are bullied and belittled in many U.S. workplaces, but their bosses may not find out about these abusive episodes, suggests a new survey to be released Saturday.
Managers at about one in four workplaces reported bullying. And three out of five said uncivil behavior, such as berating employees and "the silent treatment," had happened in the last year.
It's believed to be the first study of verbal aggression in a large, nationally representative sample of workplaces. The findings will be reported by psychologist Paula Grubb of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the American Psychological Association meeting in Honolulu.
"Key informants" at 516 companies, typically bosses or personnel managers, took a phone survey done by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago; the research center added the questions about bullying and rude put-downs of employees.
"This is probably underestimated," Grubb said.
The larger the company, the more likely that bullying went on, and nonprofit job sites had more bad behavior than for-profit firms. Also linked to bullying: poor job security and lack of trust between workers and bosses.
Work at nonprofits may be more stressful because of financial strain or heavy public contact, Grubb said, adding that stress can provoke mean behavior.
Verbal abuse at work fosters depression, insomnia and alcohol and drug abuse, Grubb said. It also lowers productivity, motivation and job satisfaction, she said.