Watch out for bullying co-workers--they may make you sick. After interviewing more than 5,500 hospital workers, Mika Kivimaki, Ph.D., of the University of Helsinki in Finland, found that 5% were victims of workplace bullying and felt socially isolated, devalued, or even physically threatened. Some 66% of the victims had a chronic disease, compared with only 49% percent among, nonvictims. And bullied workers also called in sick up to 50% more than their co-workers.
The data, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, points to bullying's impact on the economy. Hospitals plagued by bullies often suffer reduced employee motivation and compromised patient care. It also affects those not directly involved--59% of nonvictims admitted that bullying existed in their hospital units, and their rate of sickness absence was 9% higher than among others.
Few companies have programs in place to protect workers from overbearing colleagues, so Kivimaki suggests telling bullies that their behavior is unacceptable, asking your boss to resolve the problem, and seeking support from a friend or health professional.