Do they stay or do they go?

Mona Berthelsen (National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway)
Anders Skogstad (University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)
Bjørn Lau (National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway)
Ståle Einarsen (University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Publication date: 10 May 2011



This study aims to explore relationships between exposure to bullying at work and intention to leave the organisation, actual leaving the workplace, and exclusion from working life through sick leave or rehabilitation or disability pension.


A prospective design with two surveys of a national representative sample of the Norwegian work force was used (n=1,775). The response rate at the first data collection in 2005 was 56.4 per cent, and 70 per cent at the second data collection in 2007. Bullying was measured using two measurement methods: self‐labelled victims of bullying and exposure to bullying behaviour, respectively.


This study shows partial support for Leymann's assumption that bullying at work will lead to exclusion from working life. Logistic regressions showed that victims of bullying considered leaving their work more often than did individuals who were not bullied, on both measurement times. The results also showed that victims have changed employer more often than non‐victims. However, most victims are still working full time or part time two years later.

Practical implications

Prevention of workplace bullying must be handled through procedures on an organisational level. Rehabilitation programs and reintegration must be offered for employees unable to stay in their job. Counselling should be available for those who experience bullying or consider leaving their job.


To the authors' knowledge, this is the first study examining bullying, intention to leave, turnover and exclusion from working life with a prospective longitudinal design.



Berthelsen, M., Skogstad, A., Lau, B. and Einarsen, S. (2011), "Do they stay or do they go?", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 178-193.

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