Your Business’ Silent Killer


By Dawn Haynes

If you are over the age of 40, you may remember the public service announcements from years ago created to raise public awareness of high blood pressure or hypertension.  It was during this time that it became dubbed “the silent killer”.  Over the years, we have learned that untreated high blood pressure significantly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke—the first and third most common causes of death in the US.  Hypertension can also damage the kidneys and increase the risk of blindness and dementia.  This silent killer wreaks serious systemic havoc even as we remain completely unaware of its presence.  And left untreated, any one of these side effects can result in death.

Did you know that, quiet as it is kept, your business may have been or could be at risk for another kind of “silent killer”?  This silent killer sucks the financial lifeblood out of our companies and has, based on one study, an overall economic impact to the tune of somewhere between $6 and $14.8 billion per year.  It eats its way through approximately 10% of company profits via employee turnover; reduced morale; loss of productivity; lost time; negative impact on company reputation; increased medical costs in the form of sick leaves, health insurance costs; and worker’s compensation claims.  In some instances, there are also increased legal costs and rehabilitation costs.

It is a silent killer because one 2014 workplace survey found that while 72% of American employees are aware and acknowledge that it exists in the workplace and 48% of whom are either directly or indirectly affected, only 18% of all employers take actions to stop it while 72% either condone or explicitly sustain it because, sadly, it is not illegal.  So, what is this silent killer and why aren’t employers more concerned?

It is workplace bullying.  And while a small percentage (5%) of employers actually actively encourage workplace bullying, I believe the overwhelming majority of employers treat it the same way most of us typically treat the shortness of breath indicative of heart disease; the sudden severe headache that warns of a stroke; the change in urination that accompanies compromised kidney function; or the changes in reasoning and judgment that warn of dementia.  They simply don’t see it as anything to be taken seriously or as being indicative of a bigger or more systemic problem – the kind of problem that, left unchecked, could have any number of dire consequences.

You may be thinking, “I’m a solo practitioner”, or, “I’m not a bullying boss.”  “So, why should I care?”  Perhaps you should care because workplace bullying doesn’t always occur from the top down.  But more on that next time; until then, wishing you continued small business success—safely!


Dawn Haynes, the Toolbox Diva™, is the CEO, (Chief Empowerment Officer) of 2EmpowerU, (formerly Fight or Flight Self Defense).  You can contact Dawn by email at [email protected], by phone at 713-298-6301, or visit her website at


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