What Can Affect Our Health at Work? The Dynamics of Mobbing in Romania

Delia Pușcă

10 minutes read

One in 10 Romanian employees considers conflicts with colleagues or bosses very stressful.

It’s the conclusion of a study conducted by 4Service Group Romania, a market research company. Even if the results were reported in 2019, things have not changed so much since then.

Health at work is closely connected to various phenomena or factors. One of the most debated topics nowadays is burnout, but how many times have we heard in Romania about mobbing (exerting mental stress on someone)?

Do we really take action, analyse and prevent the behaviours associated with this fact? Rarely, and when we hear about this, it’s easy to confuse it with bullying, a term used mainly in schools.

While in other European countries, such as Spain, France and Italy, mobbing has been studied since the 90s, the psychological pressures on some employees (either to make them leave their jobs or to feel inferior to colleagues) are not yet so analysed in Romania, or we do not have a clear legislative framework.

Art. 5, for example, of the Labour Code, mentions that, “within the labour relations, the principle of equal treatment towards all employees and employers works. Any direct or indirect discrimination against an employee based on criteria of sex, sexual orientation, genetic characteristics, age, nationality, race, colour, ethnicity, religion, political choice, social origin, disability, family status or responsibility, affiliation or trade union activity is prohibited.”

In addition, art. 31 of the EU chapter on fundamental rights, according to which “every employee has the right to working conditions that respect his or her health, safety and dignity”, can be considered a starting point in European law, in terms of preventing psychological harassment at work.

Going from inappropriate behaviour to … mobbing? Just one step!

Heinz Leymann, one of the best-known academics who studied mobbing, mentions at least 45 specific behaviours.

Isolating the victim, disregarding her or him in front of colleagues, professional discredit and restricting the right to reply are the most common. In most of the cases, each of them can have a progressive installation.

However, the phenomenon can also have a sudden onset. Usually, the organizational climate directly influences each action, whether it is appropriate or inappropriate.

Directions of mobbing

In common terms, mobbing could easily translate into stress and conflict generated by colleagues, bosses, clients and so on. In other words, mobbing can exist throughout an organization and can take on various forms: from differences of opinion to fierce power struggles. The more often such behaviours repeat, the faster the mobbing sets in.

In an extended context, in recent years, mobbing has acquired another connotation. The sexual one is an example. Such harassment has become a clear component of the mobbing phenomenon.

Although there are not many recent statistics, in Romania, the subject is not a novelty. The first studies and conclusions appeared over 15 years ago.

The Institute of Marketing and Surveys, for example, included the subject in its research in 2006. Two surveys on sexual harassment in the workplace would have led to a further amplification of this phenomenon.

According to a report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, one of them aimed to measure public perception of this problem, identify solutions for managing these situations and assess the level of knowledge of the legislation in this field.

The study then included almost 500 people from 36 large and medium-sized cities. The results showed that 12.3% of respondents said they experienced or had information about sexual harassment at work. Regarding practical solutions for managing sexual harassment situations, 15% of the targets were forced to leave the workplace and 25% sent complaints to the company’s management or authorities.

55% of respondents said they have information and know the legislation in the field.

Regarding the effects of sexual harassment at work, it seems that 80% of respondents reported that their activity was affected. That time, the study included more than 650 people from four major cities. 43% of respondents said they would complain to the authorities if they were sexually harassed at work.

Can mobbing be investigated?

Coercive pressures, contradictory attitudes, the search for guilty people instead of solutions and the lack of acceptance of new things can influence the dynamics of mobbing. All of these directly generate several main characters, found at the level of any organizational group – the victim, the aggressor and accomplices.

Unfortunately, beyond the ambiguous legislative framework in Romania, the main problem in investigating mobbing remains the aggressors. More exactly, the lack of concrete data from them. Most of the time, the victims are in the middle of any investigations and data collected, and the perspective of the aggressors is too little exposed.

In Michael Sheehan’s perception, one of the aggressors’ motivations has to do with their professional incapacity, which they feel is threatened by the employee who is going to become a victim. Managers, for example, proceed to mobbing when they feel that other employees may exceed their skill level. (“Workplace bullying: Responding with some emotional intelligence” – International Journal of Manpower)

Leymann, on the other hand, which we already mentioned at the beginning of the article, sees an even greater “feature” of mobbing. Regarding women, he found that they react to different behaviours such as gossip, slander and insults. His finding came in relation to Finland, but it fits just as well in any corner of the world, doesn’t it?

This phenomenon of mobbing hides organizational problems at an individual or group level, aspects that can have effects on human and financial resources.­­

What about you? In which category do you fall?

Have you ever been a victim, aggressor or accomplice?

Photo credit: Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

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Written by Delia Pușcă


Journalist by profession for over 10 years, but converted to public relations and human resources. I appreciate good manners and the art of communication in all its forms. I consider that elegance in behavior is the most precious prerogative, a principle according to which I guide my entire activity.

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