Bullying in the workplace can cause serious problems for your business, including loss of productivity, absenteeism, and high staff turnover.
In the worst cases, failing to deal with it in time can even result in mass employee resignations. This is why it’s essential to identify and prevent workplace bullying as early as possible.
This post will discuss what workplace bullying looks like and how you can prevent it.
What is bullying in the workplace?
If you think bullying only happens at school, you’re wrong. It happens at work and to adults, too. Bullying in the workplace includes harmful, targeted acts that happen at work and make people feel intimidated, offended, and ashamed.
Bullying in the workplace can happen in various forms, including verbal threats, physical bullying, damaging someone’s reputation, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, and more. It creates a pattern, and the bullies tend to aim at a certain person or a few people.
The effects of bullying in the workplace are so terrible that they endanger the victim’s health, career, and life. And since there exists a large number of leaders who are bullies, many employees actually suffer in silence.
Bullying at work can be subtle; for instance, a senior delegates all of their tasks to new hires. The bullies can be so good at disguising themselves that the victims and everyone else can’t even notice their bullying behaviors.
Common cases of bullying in the workplace
Senior vs. junior
The imbalance of authority in the company is one of the most common factors that leads to bullying at work. New hires often encounter bullying from the senior staff or superiors.
When seniors have bullying acts towards their juniors, it can be difficult for the victims to resist. They’re afraid that they will lose their jobs, or that the senior staff will report negatively to the boss. So victims usually just stay silent and do what the bully tells them. As a result, victims will feel isolated, lonely, rejected, threatened, and depressed.
Constant bullying, well, is the persistent suffering of the victims. The bullies target certain staff and then lash out at them over and over again.
Constant bullying may appear repeatedly in many forms: cursing, mocking, scolding, taking the credit of an individual, preventing them from attending important meetings, sending harassing emails, pushing them around, and spreading false rumors in the workplace.
Of course, these repetitive actions will have a devastating impact on the victim. And as a leader, you need to prevent and resolve this as soon as possible.
How to prevent bullying in the workplace
Bullying in the workplace can affect your employees tremendously, from physical health and mental state to work performance and daily life. When people are unhappy, they leave. So, it’s important to tackle bullying in the workplace and save your employees from harm.
It all starts with the leader
To prevent the issues of workplace bullies, you need to walk the talk and set a good example for your employees.
Treat your employees respectfully by not becoming that horrible boss or manipulative superior just to showcase your power.
Set the overall tone for employee interactions. If you’re nice to everyone else, most employees will be likely to do the same.
As the leader, you’re the bridge that connects everybody in your team together. Encourage respectful and constructive conversations among your employees through all communication channels.
Be open with your team members
Good communication skills will make it easier to get to know and converse with your team members. Practice interpersonal skills and build good relationships so that everyone doesn’t feel afraid to open up with you about workplace problems.
By carrying out thoughtful conversations with employees, you might figure out unsaid problems at your company. You can even spot bullying behaviors and take the initiatives to tackle them from the beginning phase.
When staff start to trust you more, they’re more likely to come to you for making complaints and suggestions. Be sure to process each complaint fairly and evaluate every incident thoroughly before taking the next steps.
As you get closer to your employees, you can spot changes in their behaviors and signs that they’re being intimidated.
Report about bullying in the workplace
Let employees know they can report workplace bullying to you—their manager and human resources department.
Leaders should designate a person to talk to employees when it comes to insecure feelings and depressing emotions at work. You can do it yourself, but it’s best to have someone with expertise carry out those conversations.
If these bullying cases are not resolved or become more serious, you should gather help from reliable sources. There are various websites and hotlines for your employees to report about cases of bullying. They also offer mental consultations and counseling to the victims of bullying.
Organizing orientation and training sessions to inform employees about bullying is necessary. This way you’re making it clear that your staff need to respect others and what consequences they have to face if they don’t.
These sessions should include information regarding how to prevent and react towards bullying:
- Should victims gather physical evidence or record interactions with the bullies? How?
- Who should they talk to in case bullying happens to them?
- How to spot bullying behaviors and how to react appropriately?
Bullying in the workplace can have significant negative effects on employees and on the overall workplace culture.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to learn how to identify bullies in the workplace and prevent it from occurring in your team.
Read more about 9 types of workplace bullies here.