Would you send bullying victims to a $500 a day "healing retreat"?

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Next month will see America’s first dedicated healing retreat for bullied workers when the Workplace Bullying Institute creates its first “safe harbor” for those who have “endured emotional abuse” at work. It’s the first of three the institute has organized this year near the institute’s headquarters in Bellingham, Washington, and costs $500 for the one day workshop.

Publicity hoax or legitimate necessity? Time will tell whether the idea has longevity, but research is also showing that maybe bullying is more widespread than one might expect.

A report in this month’s Journal of Applied Psychology found it’s not just low performers that become targets of bullying: high performers are also likely to be victimized. Researchers asked more than 600 workers whether they had been the target of aggressive behaviors from colleagues over the past month, and then asked their supervisors about the amount of effort those employees put into the jobs.

Those who played the status quo did not tend to perceive that they were the victims of workplace aggression, but those rated as having either high or low performance by their supervisors were more likely to indicate that they were victims. However, they experienced different kinds of aggression. Low performers were more likely to suffer from overt victimization, like yelling or threats to their faces. High performers, on the other hand, had more subtle issues to deal with, like ostracism and backstabbing.

“Although good performance is often emphasized, these results suggest concern for high performers and whether or not they ‘have a target on their back’,” the researchers wrote.

To minimize resentment against high performers, they recommended that managers avoid publicly comparing employees. As for low performers, nurturing them could help foster harmony within teams.

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