Knowing Others Are Bullied May Make Some Nurses Quit Their


Nurses are more likely to consider quitting their job if bullying occurs in their workplace, even if they are not bullied directly, say researchers at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada. Their study, published in the journal Human Relations, was conducted in order to determine whether bullying in the workplace can have a negative impact on a worker's desire to remain in their organization.

The team surveyed 357 nurses in 41 hospital units and found that victims of bullying were more likely to contemplate leaving their job. In addition, they found a strong association between working in an environment where bullying was taking place and wanting to quit.

The researchers discovered that in those who rarely experienced direct bullying, the positive association between being bullied at work and turnover intention is stronger than in those who are bullied frequently.

Earlier studies have shown a strong association between bullying within an organization and high staff turnover, especially when other jobs are readily available.

According to the researchers, their study has wider implications in human resources, because they analyzed a broad, varied and generalized experience of bullying.

In addition, they were able to accurately analyze the simultaneous impacts of direct bullying and ambient bullying by using hierarchical linear modeling techniques.

Marjan Houshmand explained:

"Of particular note is the fact that we could predict turnover intentions as effectively either by whether someone was the direct target of bullying, or by how much an environment was characterized by bullying.

This is potentially interesting because we tend to assume that direct, personal experiences should be more influential upon employees than indirect experiences only witnessed or heard about in a second-hand fashion.

Yet our study identifies a cause where direct and indirect experiences have a similarly strong relationship to turnover intentions."

The investigators believe that even though employees may experience moral indignation at others being bullied, it is perceived as being even more unfair when others are bullied and they are not.

Houshmand said:

"This work provides insight into the bullying targets' understanding of their experiences and it challenges the 'passive' view of workplace bullying that characterizes the targets of bullying as hapless victims who are too vulnerable and weak to fight their bullies. Instead, the targets of bully see 'escaping' their own and other people's bullies as a means to create turmoil and disrupt the organization as an act of defiance."

Written by Grace Rattue