The Consequences of Workplace Harassment

In the phenomenon of mobbing, it has become especially important, as it is evidenced as the cause of depression, generalized anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorders, which lead to absenteeism, abandonment of the job, increase in accidents, decrease in quantity and quantity quality of work, etc., which produces high costs in industrialized society and in the victim of mobbing who sees his career or profession, his social and financial situation, and even his health threatened (Carreras and others, 2002). These consequences of workplace harassment will be analyzed in the following this article.

Consequences of workplace harassment

For Hirigoyen (2001) the first symptoms that appear are very similar to stress: tiredness, nervousness, sleep problems, migraines, digestive problems, low back pain; but if the bullying persists over time, then a major depressive state can be established. According to the survey carried out by Hirigoyen (2001), 69% of the people who answered the questionnaire had suffered from a major depressive state and 52% had varied psychosomatic disorders.

For this author, workplace bullying leaves indelible marks that can range from post-traumatic stress to a recurrent experience of shame or even lasting changes in her personality. The devaluation persists even when the person moves away from his harasser. The victim wears a psychological scar that makes her fragile, that leads her to live in fear and to doubt everyone. Piñuel and Zabala (2001) structure the consequences of mobbing in the affected worker in the following sections:

Physical consequences

There is a wide range of somatizations:

  • cardiovascular disorders (hypertension, arrhythmias, chest pains, etc.)
  • muscle disorders (back pain, neck pain, tremors, etc.)
  • respiratory disorders (feeling of suffocation, flushing, hyperventilation, etc.)
  • gastrointestinal disorders (abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, etc.)

Psychic consequences

  • Anxiety
  • depressed mood
  • apathy or loss of interest in activities that previously interested or brought you pleasure
  • sleep disturbances (insomnia and hypersomnia)
  • deep feelings of guilt
  • increased appetite
  • cognitive distortions (failure, guilt, ruin, uselessness, etc.)
  • hypervigilance
  • suspicion
  • emotional lability with frequent crying
  • unstructured thoughts of suicide, no plan or suicide attempts
  • feelings of helplessness and helplessness
  • fear of the workplace, of picking up the phone, of confronting their boss
  • fear of going back to work and not being able to perform your job properly
  • fear of going out
  • negative expectations about your future
  • selective attention to everything related to failure
  • decreased memory capacity and difficulties in maintaining attention and recurring thoughts about the mobbing situation.

Personality changes occur in the victim with a predominance of obsessive traits (hostile attitude and suspicion, chronic feeling of nervousness, hypersensitivity regarding injustice), depressive traits (feelings of helplessness, anhedonia, learned helplessness) (Gómez, Burgos and Martín, 2003) and alteration of sexual desire (sexual hypoactivity, etc.).

Social consequences

The social effects of workplace bullying are characterized by the appearance in the victim of behaviors of isolation , avoidance and withdrawal (INSHT, 2001); as well as resignation, the feeling of alienation with respect to society and a cynical attitude towards the environment (Gómez, Burgos and Martín, 2003).

A progressive isolation is usually generated around the victim, due, in part, to the withdrawal of some of their friends, who when seeing the situation turn their backs on them and disappear, together with the active isolation that the victim exercises.

He does not want to be with other people so as not to have to give explanations about his departure from the organization, and due to his feeling of failure and lack of confidence, he thinks that the rest of the people consider him a failure, and he is afraid of facing possible critics.