Sunday, October 19, 2008

ADHD and the Workplace

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are terms familiar to most and are usually ascribed to children. Yet, many adults, particularly those in their late 30s and older, may suffer from one of these disorders and not even know it. ADD and ADHD were not widely studied, discussed, debated, and diagnosed until the 1990s, long after many adults were out of the school system.

For adults with ADHD, the workplace can be stressful and challenging. “If these challenges are not recognized and coping strategies not developed, people with ADHD may find themselves jumping from job to job, being terminated, and becoming increasingly frustrated and unhappy” wrote psychologist Janet Frank.

In the workplace, ADHD adults may encounter “ADHD traps” such as distractibility, impulsivity, boredom, time management and organization problems, procrastination, difficulty with long-term projects, and interpersonal difficulties.

Dr. Edward Hallowell, founder of The Hallowell Center, writes that “external structure” is key. He suggests using lists, color-coding reminders, and notes to self. “Prioritize. Avoid procrastination. When things get busy, the adult ADHD person loses perspective. . . . Take a deep breath. Put first things first. Procrastination is one of the hallmarks of adult ADHD.”

Dr. Hallowell writes a blog where he offers suggestions, tips, and techniques for understanding and dealing with ADD and ADHD. Most of all, he wants people to remember that “treatment of adult ADHD begins with hope.”

Adults with ADD and ADHD may have legal protections under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in higher education and the workplace. Some state laws may go further than these federal laws in prohibiting discrimination. Check with your state government or an attorney who practices in your jurisdiction to determine your rights under state law and federal laws.

(Originally posted to

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Workplace Bullying: The Silent Epidemic

Workplace bullying refers to persistent aggressive or unreasonable actions of a person (or group of people) towards an employee (or group of employees). Bullying behavior is that which intimidates, degrades, offends, or humiliates a worker. The behavior may be inflicted verbally, nonverbally, psychologically, or physically.

The Workplace Bullying Institute* just released its Labor Day 2008 Survey “How Employers & Co-Workers Respond to Workplace Bullying.”

The WBI study surveyed two separate 400-person respondent groups. The participants visited the WBI web site and completed one or both of the surveys, asking about either their employers’ responses to bullying, or asking what co-workers did.

The question posed: At work, have you experienced any or all of the following types of repeated mistreatment: sabotage by others that prevented work from getting done, verbal abuse, threatening conduct, intimidation or humiliation?

I found the results to be astounding.

Question: When the employer was told about the bullying, what did the employer do?

* 1.7% - conducted fair investigation and protected target from further bullying with negative consequences for the bully
* 6.2% - conducted fair investigation with negative consequences for the bully but no safety for the target
* 8.7% - inadequate/unfair investigation; no consequences for bully or target
* 31% - inadequate/unfair investigation; no consequences for bully but target was retaliated against
* 12.8% - employer did nothing, ignored the complaint; no consequences for bully or target
* 15.7%- employer did nothing; target was retaliated against for reporting the bullying but kept job
* 24% - employer did nothing; target was retaliated against and eventually lost job

Bullied workers reported that a majority of employers (53%) did nothing to stop the mistreatment when reported and many (in 71% of cases) retaliated against the person who dared to report it.

In 40% of cases, targets considered the employer’s “investigation” to be inadequate or unfair with less than 2% of investigations described as fair and safe for the bullied person. Filing complaints led to retaliation by employers of bullied targets leading to lost jobs (24%). Alleged bullies were punished in only 6.2% of cases; bullying is done with impunity.

When asked: Bully’s rank relative to the targeted person:
7.6% Bully ranked lower than the targeted individual
18.7% Bully was a co-worker, colleague, a peer of the targeted individual
73.6% Bully ranked above the target by one or more levels in the organization

Additional facts from the Employers’ Response study:

* 95% of respondents were self-described targets of bullying (past or current)
* 59% of the bullies were women; 80% of targets were women
* 74% Bully enlisted others sometimes or always; 26% Bully worked alone

For more information on workplace bullying, visit our resources page “Let’s Talk About…”™ and view our webinar, Bullying In the Workplace.

*© 2008, Workplace Bullying Institute,

(Originally posted to