Workplace bullying and adult bullying is fast becoming a major part of business community and the community at large. People seem to be deriving joy in bullying those below them in their offices. Subordinates out of fear of being bullied fail to blow whistle that would have helped uncover occupational fraud and other frauds that is eating dip into our economy.
A young lady out of fear of being called names failed to report discrepancy discovered in accounts payable for several months. Her superior officers always call her ‘dullest of all’ each time she asks a question about her work area that she does not understand.
This workplace bullying that this lady had been suffering from her superior officers made her keep mute when she finally ran into fraud that would have been uncovered if she had raised alarm. The account clerk noticed that Anne (not real name) has developed fear of asking questions in areas that gets her a little bit confused. So, immediately Anne was made responsible for reconciling accounts, the fraudster injected fictitious invoices into the system.
Anne did her job well by noticing this discrepancy but out of fear of being bullied channeled her query to Paul (not real name) her colleague of the same level who coincidentally happens to be the perpetrator of the fraud. Trust fraudsters, Paul immediately instilled more fear in her by reminding her of how she would be bullied if she is to ask question.
Anne accepted the discrepancy in good faith and Paul continued his exploit for a period of 18 months before the external auditors noticed it and advised the management to contract the service of fraud examiners.
Anne clearly saw the red flag but was handicapped to say anything to the appropriate authorities. Workplace bully also affects the moral of worker.
The morale of this short story is that managers and executives should in collaboration with their accountants and other business advisors. A lot of frauds will be discovered and nib from the bud if workers would be allowed to ask question and relate with their superiors without fear or favour. In fact, creating a condussive work environment should be incorporated into companies policies.
Research has shown that most of the office bullies are not themselves the perpetrators of occupational frauds but, some senior members of companies intentionally use bullying to create atmosphere where junior staff members would be afraid to question their actions. Accountants as fraud fighters should always be on the lookout to ascertain the through motive behind office bullying.