Bullied men more prone to leave labour market: Study

by Lauren Acurantes14 Dec 2016
According to research conducted by professors from Aarhus University and the University of Copenhagen, men react to workplace bullying by leaving the labour market for a period of time while women take prolonged sick leaves.

Their research was conducted with more than 3,000 respondents and 7% said they were subjected to bullying. Of those bullied, 43% were men.

Past research has shown that women bullied in the workplace are more likely to take more sick leaves and leads to an increase in use of antidepressants but researchers found that the opposite was true of men as bullying did not seem to increase their sickness absences.

“In fact, it seems that men who are bullied are more likely than women to go to work even when they're actually sick,” said Tine Mundbjerg Eriksen, study author and assistant professor of business economics at Aarhus University in Denmark. 

Instead, they discovered that the bullying affected their performance at work and their salaries rather than their wellbeing.

“At the same time, it appears that bullying affects men's salary level negatively, which indicates that the bullying hampers their opportunities for pay increases and promotions,” she said. 

“One way of bullying is that your colleagues or your boss impede your ability to do your job properly, make changes to your work or hand the fun and important tasks to others," she added.

Their research also showed that men are just as exposed to work or personal-related bullying as women but are slightly more exposed to physical intimidation, noted Science Daily.

This, she added, is the million dollar question, “Why do men primarily react by leaving the workplace while women react to bullying by taking prolonged sick leaves?”

She advocated for further research be conducted into this behaviour as studies have shown that workplace bullying is worse than threats and sexual harassment, with victims displaying symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There are still many things we don't know exactly. For example if the bullying follows the person or the workplace or both. But it's an expensive problem for society and for the individual, so we'd like to dig deeper," said Mundbjerg Eriksen.

Her research, Long-term consequences of workplace bullying on sickness absence, was published in the most recent issue of Labour Economics.

Related stories:

How to resolve conflicts in a ‘toxic’ workplace 

Preventing bullying in a changing workplace

Nine ways HR can fight workplace harassment


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