IWD 2024 - Andrea Luoma

As Steve Jobs said, in his famous 2005 commencement speech for Stanford University, “it’s only in looking back that we can connect the dots!” 

After 24 consecutive years and six certifiably Bully Bosses, I said enough! I was done dealing with the torment, anxiety, and degradation, of feeling force fit into organizational ways of being, thinking, believing, or of other’s insecurity.

Feeling isolated, with nowhere to turn for support, was undoubtedly the most challenging aspect of my experience. Picture this: two female bullies and four male tormentors. Is this the norm? Surprisingly, yes. The workplace Bullying Institute reveals that 70% of bullies are men, while 66% of their targets are women. Women are the perpetrators when bullying their female counterparts which is just slightly higher than for men.

An alarming statistic from MyDisabilityJobs.com finds 4 out of 10 U.S. employees endure workplace bullying encompassing repeated mistreatment, threatening behaviour, humiliation, and intimidation. Sadly, these cases are on the rise, silently affecting numerous individuals.

While there’s a significant emphasis on preventing and identifying workplace bullying, what about the aftermath for the victims? TheGlassHammer.com exposes the inadequacy of existing non-discrimination laws and employer policies that address bullying. Astonishingly, 40% of bullying cases are deemed ineligible by HR Gatekeepers, resulting in unfiled complaints, and ignored problems (Workplace Bullying Institute). Bullies go unpunished, leaving countless potential victims in their wake, with less than 20% of employers that actively support bullied targets (Business.com). The result is a staggering 65.6 million U.S. bullying victims with limited recourse.

In a world where the demand is to conform or face consequences, it’s no wonder there’s a contemporary push for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The question remains: How many more will fall victim to the pervasive culture of “do as I say, be as I say, or else?” It’s time to go beyond prevention and address the care and costs associated with its aftermath. 

For me, fortitude, friends, and forests helped work through the aftermath. Now, I help guide leaders and organizations to design organizations that support brain and nervous system functioning, develop leaders to have impact that matches intentions, and alter policy and procedure approaches in ways that the diminish fear and anxiety, all unintended consequences of current workplace design. These antidote measures also help leaders and organizations diminish bullying behaviours and toxic individuals.

Neuroscience affirms strategies previously unidentified or considered in our workplace design. Though well-intentioned, most of our organizational scaffold has no validity or reliability, it’s simply been done that way, in response to a differ era (Industrial Age), or by others we admire, so it must work? Right? It is the rare policy, procedure, or method used in contemporary organizations that was designed to work WITH the brain and nervous system. 

It’s time companies took a hard look at underlying reasons for attrition and other common challenges. Too often, the environments we’ve built and maintain become the unintentional catalyst for employees running out the door. (I know, I’ve done it six times, left amazing roles where I thrived with the work but had the life sucked out of me through systems, organizational cultures and leaders who failed to understand their unintended impacts. 

It’s time to redesign our organizations to aide in rewiring employee nervous systems for optimal NeuroWellness, efficiency, effectiveness, strengthened company culture, enhanced morale, job satisfaction, engagement, and lowered attrition.









Date Published: 5th February 2024