How to Curb Workplace Bullying
When discussions about bullying are brought up, many tend to think of it as a youth issue, a problem which is only prevalent in schools or between young siblings. However, this type of behavior is not exclusive to children. According to a national 2014 study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 27 percent of workers have reported some experience with abusive behavior on the job. More worrying is the fact that 72 percent of employers were inclined to deny, rationalize or even encourage such conduct, highlighting the need to curb workplace bullying.
Understanding the Problem
To better understand the statistics above, it’s important to define workplace bullying and describe its effects. For purposes of their national survey, the WBI qualified bullying as any conduct which was deemed intimidating, humiliating or threatening to another person in the workplace. This included direct verbal harassment as well as interfering with the work of others.
The need to curb workplace bullying exists not only because it is unprofessional behavior, but because it causes direct harm to those who are targeted. Intimidating or threatening personal conduct serves to place coworkers on edge, causing similar effects to those of an abusive domestic partnership. The constant underlying threat of harassment becomes an ongoing distraction at work for the target, for the bully, and often for those who work nearby.
Addressing Claims of Bullying
Regardless of industry, those in management bear a responsibility to receive reports of workplace bullying and to take prompt action. In many cases, this begins as little more than conversations with the alleged bully and targeted employee. You may also need to pull in peers of these workers to help substantiate claims, but it is important to approach any such situation with a level head and an open mindïjust so long as you do approach them.
One of the greatest hindrances to bullied individuals seeking help is a supervisor who won’t take complaints seriously. Indeed, the attitude that bullying is children’s behavior often leads to recommendations that one or both individuals simply ïgrow up,ï or hash out their differences without outside assistance. Logically though, in a bully-target relationship, there is little chance of individuals seeing eye-to-eye and coming to an amicable resolution.
Managerial intervention is often necessary to resolve bullying problems. If such claims are found to be true, it’ll be important to discipline the bully according to company protocol. It’s vital to tend to the targeted worker as well, offering support such as access to counseling or personal time off for sake of mental and emotional recovery. Finally, it’s crucial that you use these events as opportunities to curb workplace bullying on a greater level, issuing reminders or announcements to your general staff regarding behavior which will not be tolerated.
Unfortunately, not every case of bullying will be reported to someone in a position of authority. Because those targeted persons are often made to feel embarrassed or ashamed, it can be difficult for some to seek assistance. For this reason, it’s important that you be able to recognize instances of bullying which might otherwise go unreported. If you should encounter an employee berating a peer or subordinate, for example, you should take the opportunity to interrupt and take the offending worker aside.
Efforts to curb workplace bullying should be made calmly and professionally, so as to convey the attitude and disposition expected of all workers in your organization. By quietly halting a negative interaction, you’ve sent one message; follow it up with direct coaching to ensure that the individual in question understands what he or she did wrong.
Of course, there are cases where reports of bullying are not made because the person who would receive such reports in fact is the bully. If you are an owner, manager, or are in any position of power, it might be prudent to turn the lens on yourself for a moment. Ask yourself the following questions:
-Does it seem that dissenting opinions are rarely voiced to you, either personally or in meetings
-Have you noticed attendance problems in your organization
-Do you find it difficult to hire and retain quality workers
There’s always a chance to you are unconsciously engaging in bullying behaviors, and if you find this to be the case, a dialogue will likely be necessary to begin earning back the trust of your team.
The need to curb workplace bullying is one which exists throughout all industries. It requires effort, trust and sensitivity to limit potential disruption and to find the best solution for all persons involved. While such issues are rarely easy to approach, it’s necessary in order to maintain a harmonious work environment and to protect those under your supervision.
To learn more about resolving employee problems and creating an efficient, inviting place to work, utilize other resources here at our Mighty Recruiter today.