Increased COVID-19-related workplace bullying

Increased COVID-19-related workplace bullying during its outbreak: a 2-month prospective cohort study of full-time employees in Japan

An important study was recently completed by J-STAGE on workplace bullying.  Bullying is categorized differently than Power Harassment, and may in fact be more widespread.

Below, we cite excerpts from the study. A full PDF is available here.

Workplace bullying and harassment are common problems in the workplace: the average prevalence of workplace bullying was reported as 14.6%, according to a meta-analysis1). Workplace bullying and harassment are known to have a huge impact on worker health, including mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety2), and physical health problems, such as sleep problems3) and cardiovascular disease4,5). In addition, workplace bullying and harassment are a threat to and violation of the human rights and dignity of workers6). In the global epidemic of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in 2020), some case reports and opinion papers have claimed that discrimination and stigma related to COVID-19 increased toward Asians, immigrants, and lower socioeconomic groups in the society8,9).

This 2-month cohort study aimed to investigate the changing prevalence and factors associated with COVID-19-related workplace bullying among the general workers in Japan. Methods: A baseline survey was conducted of 4,120 full-time workers at Time 1 (March 2020) and they were invited to a follow-up survey at Time 2 (May 2020) after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Japan. The prevalence of COVID-19-related workplace bully- ing was compared between Time 1 and Time 2 by using McNemar’s test. Multiple logistic regression analysis was conducted to investigate the associations between occupation (health care and non-health care workers), socioeco- nomic status, living in areas under the national emergency announcement, workplace measures against COVID-19, occupational class, chronic physical comorbidities, chronic mental comorbidities, and COVID-19-related work- place bullying at Time 2, adjusting for that at Time 1. Results: A total of 1,421 responded to the survey at Time 2. Data from 996 respondents after excluding 36 who retired during the follow-up were analyzed. The prevalence of COVID-19-related workplace bullying increased more than double from Time 1 (2.8%) to Time 2 (6.5%). Being a manual worker (OR=3.80), having higher education (OR=2.37), and having chronic physical comorbidity (OR = 2.11) was significantly associated with the COVID-19-related workplace bullying at Time 2. Conclusions: COVID-19-related workplace bullying increased during the outbreak of COVID-19 in Japan. A lower-class occupation (manual workers) and having chronic physical comorbidity may be associated with greater victimization of COVID-19-related workplace bullying, while those with high educational attainment may be more sensitive to it.