New Study Shows Bullying in the Workplace Can Increase Workers Comp Costs for Employers
A new study suggests that bullying and mistreatment in the workplace can lead to increased costs for employers, including through raising workers comp costs, absenteeism, and disability claims.
Researchers at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, in 2010 bullying at work accounted for 5.5% of absences due to reported illness.
Workplace bullying – which includes insults, intimidation, gossiping, and withholding information – can cause stress and anxiety in victims, which in its worst forms can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. Many states allow for employees to file workers comp claims based on mental and emotional stress caused by problems at work, and bullying can lead to that type of stress.
The study reported that “being mistreated was associated with a 42% increase in the number of missed workdays, controlling for covariates. The marginal effect analysis showed that lost workdays differed by 2.45 days between mistreated and non-mistreated workers. This implies that workplace mistreatment was associated with $4.1 billion.”
“Furthermore, as exposure to bullying increases, the risk of depressive symptoms also increases,” the study found. “Besides targets of workplace bullying, employees who observed workplace bullying have also reported stress and anxiety.”
Tim Davis, sales manager for the workers comp wholesaler Insurance Shop, said workers comp insurance carriers have not begun to address bullying in education and training services.
“It wouldn’t shock me if this was to become a more common underwriting question, though, especially in workplace environments where bullying could occur,” Davis acknowledged. “I think the biggest challenge will be for agents to identify those industries in which bullying is a problem and provide insureds with education on the problem and what might be done to mitigate some of those issues.”
The study also reported that women are more likely to file workers comp claims related to office bullying than men. Workers in protective services, community and social services, and healthcare support reported the highest incidence of mistreatment – 17.8% of people in those occupations reported bullying at work. Workers in architecture, engineering, physical and social sciences, and business and finance reported the least amount of workplace bullying, at 3.5%.
“It’s too early to make substantial decisions, but with the market the way it is currently, carriers are considering every aspect of risk analysis to determine whether they want to write workers’ comp,” Davis said.
“While a causal relationship could not be established due to the cross-sectional design of the study, this study reveals the economic importance of developing workplace mistreatment prevention strategies,” the study reported.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Workers Compensation Claims for Mental or Emotional Stress
The workers compensation lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. Receiving benefits for work related stress can be difficult. You need an attorney who will fight with you to the end. Give us a call today 803.252.4800 for a free workers comp case review.