07/11/2012 12:44 EDT | Updated 11/12/2012 02:16 EST

Office Bullying Leads To Quitting -- But Not For Who You'd Think


Bullies at the office aren't only disruptive to those who are at the mercy of the behaviour, but can impact other employees as well -- sometimes leading to as extreme a reaction as quitting.

In a recent study released by UBC's Sauder School of Business, researchers found witnesses to bullying were more likely to consider quitting than the victims themselves.

"I think it comes from a sense of moral outrage," explains the study's lead researcher, Professor Sandra Robinson, to The Huffington Post Canada. "Most of us have a metric system in our heads as to how people should be treated. Even if we’re all not always the nicest people in the world, when we’re witnessing others, we can call it out in our heads."

Sauder defines bullying as any harmful behaviour at work, anything from verbal abuse to yelling, disparaging comments, ostracizing, social undermining, or taking credit for work that's not yours.

While there are few Canadian statistics regarding workplace bullying, in the U.S., it's estimated that one-third of the workforce has encountered a bully in the office at some point in their career.

'I believe it has a lot to do with power -- not so much someone’s title, but instead a power dynamic," says Sauder. "There are people in the workplace who have power, whether they're a boss, have special skills or through social dominance." Managers with more formal authority, however, are certainly less likely to be impacted.

And it may be for just that reason that co-workers are hesitant to do anything about bullying -- because they're looking at their own spot on the social ladder.

"A lot of bystanders to bullying don’t speak up, often because they’re worried they might be next," Sauder notes. "But I think it also creates a disconnect -- you don’t want to be in an environment where this kind of behaviour is tolerated, and therefore you think about leaving."

How Twitter feels about workplace bullies:

Wondering if you're being bullied at the office? Here are some common instances, according to Vancouver-based No Bully For You:

Bullying Tactics At Work