Workplace bullying is becoming of increasing interest both by unions and labour movements, but also within the private sector. Dr. Hannah Scott, at UOIT, is conducting a study to test a model capturing everyday bullying experiences (click here for a link to the survey). The model was adapted from the Duluth Power-Control model which sought to identify the day-to-day experiences of abused women, by their abusive intimate partners. The adapted model has been published this month in Workplace Health & Safety, 66(9).
Dr. Scott has modified the model in an attempt to tap into everyday experiences of victims/targets who are being bullied in the workplace. “Although we all seem to have a story of bullying, or have witnessed this behaviour towards others there is a paucity of tools in our tool box to help people identify behaviours that, when taken together, identify patterns of bullying.” She notes that it typically can take many months, and often years, to document the pattern of harassment for those who lodge complaints.
“Often it is difficult to understand what a bully is doing,” Says Dr. Scott. Targets of workplace bullying often do not understand the tactics that their bully is using, and have difficulty naming the abuse that they are experiencing.” Dr. Scott goes on to note that minor, what might appear insignificant, acts to others serve to reinforce power and control by the bully over their target. “This can lead to victims of bullying feeling stressed, isolated, anxious, depressed, and threatened on a daily basis. Bullying can take a serious toll of physical and mental health.”
This can mean that targets of bullying continue to experience bullying for long periods of time in attempt to gather enough information to stop it. “This can be immensely stressful for workers. People can easily understand why some victims just give up.” Scott is optimistic that this model will serve to help victims of bullying more effectively name those abusive behaviours that they are experiencing, and significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to establish those patterns, empowering people to try and change their working conditions.