11.2% of workers are at high risk of suffering workplace harassment and 18.8% are at medium risk. Or what is the same, 30% of Spanish workers have many numbers suffering from this hell in their offices. This is the result of a study conducted by the Social Observatory of La Caixa Foundation based on a nationally representative sample of 5,000 people.
A worker who suffers from bullying is nearly five times more likely to develop generalized anxiety disorder. Therefore, timely detection or stopping of it is crucial to ensure the psychological well-being of people in their workplace. Now there are tools to detect them at the right time. The study was carried out by Carmedy’s research group at the Universities of Malaga and Seville, and was led by researcher Jose Maria Leon Perez.
The study, in which the La Caixa Foundation collaborated, followed the evolution of 5,000 employees
The project is part of the annual Social Research Call for Spain and Portugal from the Social Observatory of the La Caixa Foundation. And the sample on which it is based—5,000 people nationwide—makes this study one of the most rigorous studies ever conducted of workplace bullying.
But when do we talk about harassment at work? Researchers consider workplace harassment “a series of negative behaviours, such as experiencing isolation at work, teasing and jokes that are not well received, concealment of information needed to properly perform tasks that must be performed, or constant unfounded criticism, among other aspects.”
Harassment is also “behavior directed systematically and repeated over time to one or more persons, who ends up in a position of inferiority and isolation.”
These abusive attitudes need a breeding ground. José María León Perez points out that “the main factors are of a collective and organizational nature, such as stressful conditions where roles are poorly defined and frustration is facilitated; competitive environments where work teams do not have the ability to integrate different viewpoints and manage conflicts, which favor stronger law or lack of leadership, and arbitrary oversight.”
Karmides’ research group has developed a “powerful tool” for detecting bullying from a statistical point of view. This technique was applied through the questionnaire on exposure to negative behaviors at work called the S-NAQ, which included three risk groups: high (target or target of bullying), medium (at risk) and low (non-exposed to bullying behaviours).
Four months after categorizing 5,000 participants in this questionnaire, the study focused on nearly 2,100 workers who, because of their vulnerabilities, were selected for a second phase of the study. The psychological well-being of these subjects was analyzed using a scale measuring anxiety. Next, the researchers verified that “the probability of developing generalized anxiety disorder, the psychiatric disorder most commonly involved in bullying, was nearly five times higher in subjects in the high-risk group for experiencing workplace bullying,” that study concluded.
And when this data was hashed, among this group of people at high risk of bullying, it was determined that 19.9% showed severe symptoms of anxiety. The alertness, which can now be detected by these studies, is one that reports “possible generalized anxiety disorder compared to people at intermediate or low risk of bullying.” A great tool, then, for prevention.