The Impact of Bullying on Observers and Targets
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Workplace bullying is known to be a psychosocial stressor for targets. Meanwhile, the effects of bullying on observers have received scant attention. This study investigated whether greater exposure to bullying, through observation as well as direct experience, was associated with a poorer work environment, and poorer individual wellbeing and work attitudes. Data were collected from 1733 employees, with 586 of these identified as suitable for further analyses. From the total, 13% (225) had neither experienced nor ever observed bullying, 3% (53) were categorized as observers, 13% (228) were identified as targets, and 5% (80) as both observers and targets. Planned statistical data contrasts across the four groups showed that non-bullied employees had the most positive perceptions of the work environment followed by observers, then targets, and finally those who had been both observers and targets. Broadly similar results were found for individual wellbeing and work attitudes. These results support the negative impact of observing bullying, with greatest impact for those who are both observers and targets.
New Zealand Journal of Human Resources Management
© 2014 Human Resources Institute of New Zealand. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Human Resources Management