Workplace Bullying: What Is It...How to Stop It
Posted: 05-30-2015 05:32 AM
Synopsis: Workplace bullying has become an increasing problem in the workplace. Experts have compared the effects of bullying as similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Workers who are bullied are less productive and more likely to leave your organization for another.
When the average person thinks of bullying they think of the school bully, but bullying is not exempt to schools...it's just a prevalent in the workplace. Nearly half the people surveyed report that they have either witnessed or been a victim of bullying.. It's effect on productivity, morale and employee retention costs organizations billions of dollars every year. It's a problem that can no longer be ignored.
What is Workplace Bullying?
Workplace bullying as with schoolhouse bullying usually causes the employee to feel belittled and isolated from the rest of the team. Some examples of bullying behavior include yelling, verbal/physical abuse, taunting, teasing or malicious gossiping. In some extreme situations, work sabotage may also be used. This includes tactics like withholding important information that will likely result in work errors, or undermine one’s success or achievements in front of leadership. And with social media becoming a crucial part of everyone’s day to day routine, cyberbullying is also a source used for humiliating or intimidating fellow employees.
Bullying vs. Strong Management
Most often bullying is done by a superior or someone in authority (although some exceptions apply). Consequently, it can be hard to identify bullying as many may justify their behavior by claiming themselves to be a tough boss. But clearly, there is a difference between being an assertive leader and a managing bully. Most important, a tough manager wants to see their employees and the entire team excel. Thus their management style is for the purpose of building up and not tearing down an individual employee. A strong manager will never publicly ridicule or put down an employee. But on the contrary, these behaviors will be a standard practice of a bullying boss.
How Bullying Adversely Affects the Workplace
As with school bullying, victims of workplace bullying suffer as a result of being bullied. And over time, bullying will lead to depression and eventually other psychological and/or health problems. Victims of bullying will often miss work thus negatively impacting work production. Some employees may even choose to quit in order to escape their abusive environment. Still, others may opt to sue the organization which can result in costly litigation.
How to Prevent Bullying in the Workplace
No specific laws apply when it comes to workplace bullying which makes it hard to govern. Nevertheless, preventing bullying in the workplace can begin with an anti-bullying policy. The drafting of this policy should result in a strong awareness of bullying and how it impacts the work environment. Added training for managers and leaders should further be incorporated to aid in identifying bullying early on. As important is to create a non-hostile environment where mutual respect is encouraged. Further, employees must feel safe to report an incidence of bullying to senior management without the risk of retaliation.