What is it?
A psychosocial, occupational risk that manifests in extreme, intense, systematic and recurring psychological violence. It includes all abusive conduct, such as gestures, words, behavior and attitude. It is continuous, deliberate verbal and non-verbal abuse:
• Verbal attacks: insults, belittling, bullying, unjustified criticism or humiliation
• Professional discrediting
• Social isolation
• Personal attacks
What ISN'T it?
Workplace mobbing is NOT the case when there is a dispute, a professional demand, application of a disciplinary measure, working in a toxic environment, having high levels of stress or burnout, an isolated act of violence, or dismissal. These are frequently confused with workplace mobbing.
What does it seek to do?
The goal of workplace mobbing is to force the victim to resign – that is, get them to leave the organization.
Duration: Mobbing is said to exist when the situation lasts six or more months.
Type of relationship: Mobbing is said to exist when there is an asymmetric relationship between the harasser and the harassed person – that is, a relationship of power.
Harassers: Harassers are said to act deliberately and maliciously, enjoying what they do and planning it with every intention of achieving the goal, which is for the victim to resign. They tend to use the weaker persons around them, setting them against the victim. They apply a whole strategy, which frequently includes undermining the victim behind his or her back. They tend to be characteristically narcissistic and sociopathic. At the same time, they are insecure, believing that the victim is a threat to their career. They try to disguise their mediocrity and make the victim the scapegoat for the organization’s problems.
Victims. There is no set profile for victims. They rarely have personal or professional weaknesses. They tend to be stronger, honest, professional workers, who as a result of the mobbing begin to display strongly insecure behavior. They get very upset, feel bad physically, and don’t want to go to work. It should be made very clear: in workplace mobbing, the problem is not the victim but the harasser. Studies show that the most likely victims of workplace mobbing are women, divorced or single women, and pre-retirement-aged people in general. As a result of the mobbing, victims are affected:
• Psychologically: their relationships with their partners, friends, and community are affected.
• Biologically: They frequently start to suffer from psychosomatic disorders.
• Economically: They have to pay for psychological or psychiatric care, and even legal help, as the case may be.
Burden of proof: In proceedings where mobbing complaints are investigated, the burden of proof rests on the complainant. However, it tends to be very difficult to prove that mobbing has occurred, due to the victim’s social isolation behavior and the other co-workers’ fear of becoming new victims.
Numbers: In 2010, the Costa Rican Social Security Institute (CCSS) granted 500 sick leaves due to workplace mobbing. The National Insurance Institute (INS) still does not fully cover workplace mobbing as an occupational risk. In 2011, the Ministry of Labor handled 65 complaints for mobbing. By 2014, the number of mobbing complaints had risen to 145. Some 43.5% of the complaints for workplace mobbing were dismissed.