Special Offer

Try Betterteam

Post your jobs to 100+ job boards

Post a Job
  • Reach over 250 million candidates.
  • Get candidates in hours, not days.

Who engages in workplace harassment?

Perpetrators of workplace harassment may include superiors, subordinates, and/or colleagues. It can occur on a person-to-person basis, between groups, from a group towards an individual, or from an individual towards a group.

These aggressions can cause severe psychological problems for the victim and have negative repercussions within an organization.

There are cases where harassers aim to confuse the affected individual, making them believe they are at fault for everything that occurs, which is a phenomenon also known as gaslighting.

Types of Workplace Harassment or Mobbing:

Hierarchical Position.

1. Horizontal Mobbing.

In this type of workplace harassment, the victim and the harasser are within the same hierarchical rank, including colleagues who work in different departments.

Attacks can be triggered by personal hostility, targeting someone perceived as weak, bringing personal/family issues into the workplace, differences of opinion with the victim, or boredom, among other factors.

2. Vertical Mobbing.

Vertical mobbing is subdivided into two types and is named so because the individuals involved are at different hierarchical levels.

Descending mobbing occurs when an employee in a lower hierarchical level is subjected to psychological harassment by individuals in higher positions, even if they are not from the same department. This usually happens to manipulate, control, and subdue the employees.

Ascending mobbing occurs when an employee in a higher hierarchical level is targeted by their subordinates. This often happens due to an abuse of trust, taking advantage of certain situations, or achieving goals in an unethical manner.


1. Managerial Mobbing.

As the name suggests, it is carried out by managers or executives in the company for various reasons. For instance, to justify labor exploitation, induce exhaustion or burnout in an individual, or get rid of a noncompliant employee, among others.

This type of workplace harassment can also be used to enforce productivity through threats or by instilling fear. Often, employees who do not align with a manager's personal preferences experience this kind of harassment.

2. Strategic Mobbing.

Typically, the goal of this form of harassment is to make the employee feel compelled to resign voluntarily due to an unpleasant atmosphere or poor working conditions.

This type of mobbing is part of a calculated strategy to, among other things, hinder the person's growth within the organization, withhold benefits, or indirectly deny workplace rights.

3. Disciplinary Mobbing.

This type of harassment creates an environment where superiors cannot be challenged. It is used to pressure the affected person into accepting poor, suspicious, or toxic working conditions, with the risk of being "punished," primarily through termination.

On the other hand, it can be used against individuals at a disadvantage, such as those with health issues, disabilities, minorities, pregnant women, or those who identify questionable actions by someone within the company.

Personal Reasons.

1. Malicious Mobbing.

This type of mobbing is extremely detrimental at any hierarchical level and can be combined with any other type of harassment. It is caused by a manipulative individual who conceals or disguises their attacks, making it difficult to find workplace solutions.

In such cases, the harasser usually carries out their attacks exclusively in the presence of the victim, ensuring no witnesses. They often strive to gain the trust and/or sympathy of other staff members to cast doubt on the credibility of the affected individual.

Typically, they try to pose as victims when confronted about their behavior.

Furthermore, the harasser is often a productive individual who fulfills their work responsibilities satisfactorily. The motivations behind their harassment always vary, often stemming from an obsession with a particular person or group.

2. Discriminatory Mobbing.

This arises from factors that have little to do with work-related issues. In other words, an employee is harassed solely due to being perceived as different or inferior.

The causes could be age, gender, social class, physical appearance, marital status, health issues, disabilities, origin, religious beliefs, political ideology, sexual orientation, among other aspects.

Consequences of Workplace Harassment:

Consequences for the Company.

  • High employee turnover.
  • Poor reputation for the company.
  • Potential lawsuits or fines.
  • Frequent compensation costs.
  • Low productivity.
  • Reduced competitiveness.
  • Tense work environment.
  • Poor employee relations.
  • Inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
  • Demotivated staff.

Consequences for Individuals.

  • Gradual or definitive abandonment of the job.
  • Low performance and/or subpar results.
  • Loss of interest in tasks.
  • Physical, mental, and emotional health issues.
  • Impact on personal or family relationships.
  • Ongoing medical expenses.
  • Social isolation.
  • Insecurity.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Prevention and Intervention Measures by the Company:

Prevention Measures against Workplace Harassment.

  • Comply with the requirements for preventing psychosocial risks set by the International Labor Organization.
  • Establish norms, protocols, sanctions, and codes of conduct.
  • Train the Human Resources (HR) department to receive complaints and provide appropriate guidance.
  • Provide training to executives and personnel in higher positions.
  • Review leadership styles.
  • Disseminate information about mobbing within the company.
  • Foster and open communication channels.
  • Promote a sense of belonging.
  • Pay attention to areas with high staff turnover or constant conflicts.
  • Continuously evaluate the work environment to address deficiencies.
  • Address the needs of the organization's personnel.
  • Conduct team-building or recreational activities among employees.

Intervention Measures against Workplace Harassment.

  • Confirm that each particular case involves workplace harassment.
  • Follow the steps of the established protocol.
  • Provide an impartial and fair space for those involved.
  • Safeguard the integrity and privacy of the individuals involved.
  • Apply sanctions if appropriate.
  • Seek legal advice.
  • Always provide a resolution and never leave cases unresolved.

Workplace harassment can occur remotely as well.

Even if your company's personnel doesn't physically come to an office or has adopted a hybrid work model, it doesn't mean that mobbing can't be directed against a colleague.

In these situations, it can occur through means such as chats, emails, phone calls, or by using any digital platform.

Examples of Workplace Harassment or Mobbing:

  • Abusing, yelling at, or insulting an employee when they are alone or in the presence of their colleagues.
  • Assigning victims objectives or projects with goals known to be unattainable or impossible to achieve, along with deadlines or resources that are clearly insufficient.
  • Sending aggressive, inappropriate, or humiliating emails, text messages, calls, or any other form of communication.
  • Selectively overloading the victim with excessive work.
  • Changing the victim's job attributes or responsibilities without consultation or notice to anyone else within the company.
  • Continuously threatening the victim.
  • Discriminating, treating differently, and/or using exclusive measures against the victim.
  • Ignoring, excluding, being indifferent, not acknowledging, or pretending that the person is not present in the office or in meetings they participate in, deliberately.
  • Taking credit for the work done by the victim or downplaying their achievements.
  • Making false accusations against the person.
  • Spreading rumors, mocking, ridiculing, or exaggerating situations that negatively impact the victim's reputation.

Strong Work Ethic

Complete guide to hiring employees with a strong work ethic.


What is mobbing?

Mobbing or workplace harassment is a regrettable and common phenomenon that involves repeatedly exerting verbal or psychological violence on an individual over an indefinite period of time in work environments.

What are the types of workplace harassment or mobbing?

  • Horizontal Mobbing.
  • Vertical Mobbing.
  • Managerial Mobbing.
  • Strategic Mobbing.
  • Disciplinary Mobbing.
  • Malicious Mobbing.
  • Discriminatory Mobbing.

What is considered workplace harassment?

Some examples of workplace harassment include mistreating, shouting at, or insulting an employee, sending any form of aggressive, inappropriate, or humiliating communication, spreading rumors, and making false accusations against the person, among many others.

What can I do to prevent workplace harassment in my company?

There are several prevention and intervention measures against workplace harassment. However, the most important thing to do is to establish rules, protocols, sanctions, and codes of conduct regarding the issue and to provide the involved parties with a space for impartial and fair attention.

What is the difference between harassment and workplace harassment?

While it's also correct to refer to it as harassment or mobbing, workplace harassment specifically occurs when the aggressor holds a hierarchical position higher than the victim within a company.

What type of mobbing is the most common?

Currently, the vast majority of reported mobbing cases are instances of psychological or verbal harassment of the vertical descending type. This means that employees in lower hierarchical positions experience psychological harassment from individuals in higher positions, even if they are not from the same department.

What are the phases of mobbing?

  1. Initial conflict.
  2. Harassment.
  3. Company intervention.
  4. Resolution.

What are the effects of harassment at work?

Employees may suffer from absenteeism, low morale, tension, depression, and/or anxiety as a result of workplace mobbing. For companies, workplace harassment may cause a high employer turnover, low productivity, and demotivated staff.

Related Articles:

Code of Ethics

How to create a code of ethics with a free downloadable template.

Professional Code of Conduct

How to create a code of conduct with a free downloadable template.

Dress Code Policy

Read our dress code policy sample below to see what it looks like.

Inclusive Leadership

Definition and Best Practices

Job Orientation

How to create a job orientation program template.