If you believe bullies can be seen only in high school, think again. The same bullies grow up and stay bullies throughout their adult lives and harass their colleagues and subordinates at work. Almost one-third of employees experience some kind of bullying at their workplace. There are different types of bullies, but the tactics of dealing with them are pretty much similar.
What Is Considered Bullying?
Maybe you, as a company owner, are not aware of all types of bullying and ways your employees can be harassed. In order to protect the employees, you must know what you need to protect them from. Here are most typical (and some less typical) bullying examples:
- Intimidating a person, or intruding into a person’s privacy in any way
- Excluding a person socially and spreading rumors about them
- Overwork – giving unachievable deadlines to a person, changing working schedules, giving unreasonable responsibilities
- Underwork – making a person feel useless
- Yelling, constantly criticizing, making offensive jokes
- Undermining a person’s work, tampering with their belongings or equipment
- Physical abuse or threats of abuse
In short, bullying is any kind of behavior that is offensive, inappropriate, or unreasonable, which also occurs frequently and aims to diminish another person or to take away his or her personal power. Whether it’s physical, verbal or written, this conduct or behavior prevents the other person from doing their job or threatens their dignity, well-being and basic human rights.
Still, if an action cannot be clearly identified as abusive, you can always do this test: if most people would consider that action as an unacceptable behavior, it is most likely bullying behavior.
How Does Bullying Affect Your Company?
Of course, bullying has the greatest impact on the victim. It makes them feel insecure, angry, vulnerable, and ineffective at their job. But it quickly becomes the problem of the whole company. Gradually, the workplace will develop an unhealthy working atmosphere among the employees, which leads into many issues:
- Employees will be absent more frequently
- They will be under more stress
- Risk of accidents and incidents at work will be increased
- Low productivity, as well as the motivation to do the job and thrive, will be issues
- Overall low morale
- Company will get a bad reputation
- Customer service will worsen, which leads to losing some customers
How to Establish a Bullying-Free Company
In order to create a working environment that’s free from bullying behavior, it is important to do three things:
Create a policy on bullying and harassment. Employees need to know that there is an established procedure if bullying occurs and that your company has professionals designated to resolve the issue. There should be clear rules on what is acceptable behavior in the workplace.
Invest in your HR department, as well as in counselling and mediation services. Each one of these options should be available to employees. The HR department is usually the first step in dealing with bullying complaints. A formal complaint isn’t the only solution at the beginning. Talking to the victim can sometimes be the first step. Counselling is another approach to the whole problem. It should be paid for by the employer and done in case there are some doubts about the complaint, and if there is a chance of resolving the issue without any formal actions. If you need outside help, consider using a mediation specialist that can help the victim and the bully reconcile their differences. Sometimes it all happens to be a big misunderstanding that could be clarified with an honest conversation.
Get expert advice. Both employers and employees should be familiar with ways of creating a positive atmosphere at the workplace and tactics of effective conflict resolution. There are professionals trained to teach all of them just that.
The process of resolving the issue of bullying is not easy or simple. Still, it doesn’t mean one should simply put up with the harassment and hope it will go away or that it will eventually hurt less. Workplace bullying is real, and every worker should be protected from it and know how to get help if it occurs at your company.