Add bullying to your repertoire of known employee health hazards.
Toxic psychosocial work environments, caused by bullying, threaten employee health and safety. Work processes have physical, psychological and work team (social) components and are psychosocial. Psychosocial factors have reliably been shown to affect not only productivity-defined outcomes and employee health and well-being. The newest neuroscience research demonstrates objectively the harm interpersonal negativity creates for employees via the onset of stress-related diseases.
• prolonged exposure to the stressors of workplace bullying (personalized assaults from coworkers or bosses, institutional indifference to requests for relief, absence of laws compelling employer attention) triggers the human stress response that floods the brain with glucocorticoids, including cortisol, that cause atrophy in key emotional, memory and decision-making areas of the brain impairing performance
• workplace bullying is a non-physical and sub-lethal form of workplace violence (NIOSH)
Thus, the impact of destructive psychosocial work environments now compels the attention of executives, risk managers, talent management in addition to those traditionally tasked with ensuring the protection of employee safety and health.
• H & S officers are experienced at lobbying executives to take seriously threats to employee health and safety for fiscal reasons or to avoid negative media exposure -- workplace bullying requires the same effort
European and Canadian governments, recognizing the seriousness of the health harm caused by toxic psychosocial work environments, enacted OHS regulations to make employers accountable for mitigating and preventing the risk of worker. Violations now include the failure to protect the psychological health of workers. There are global precedents.
Stress-related diseases kill. Specifically, there is a growing collection of peer-reviewed scientific articles linking workplace bullying to stress and stress to stress-related diseases in the workplace.
• Cardiovascular -- hypertension, ischemia, strokes, heart attacks, cardiac arrest
• Gastrointestinal -- IBD, colitis
• Rheumatological -- diabetes
• Musculoskeletal -- fibromyalgia
• Immunological -- cancer?
Stress also creates psychological injuries.
• Debilitating anxiety & panic attacks
• Clinical depression, workplace originated
• Posttraumatic stress (PTSD or symptoms of Intrusive thoughts, Hypervigilance, Avoidance