How To Deal With Workplace Bullying

How To Deal With Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is best described as the chronic mistreatment of workers either by their co-workers or management. This behavior is common and can significantly weaken the morale and productivity of employees as well as thecompany culture itself. Identifying workplace bullying and taking the steps to resolve it is extremely important.

Why Workplace Bullying Is Often Overlooked

Workplace bullying is not the same thing as sexual harassment, racism, or outright violence, so as a consequence many overlook it. This type of bullying involves interruptions that interfere with work, verbal abuse, humiliation and threats. Recent surveys conducted on American workers indicate that almost 30 percent felt they have been subjected to this type of behavior, and many employees are reluctant to report it to their superiors either due to embarrassment, or because their superiors are the ones who perpetuate it.

Specific Examples of Workplace Bullying

There are a number of things which constitute this type of behavior. Some specific things to watch for include:

  • Employees who spread negative gossip about others
  • Employees who yell at or use foul language towards co-workers
  • Managers who intentionally set unrealistic goals so certain employees can fail
  • Making jokes about co-workers which are offensive
  • Stealing or damaging the belongings of co-workers
  • Interfering with the work and concentration of co-workers
  • Routinely assigning very difficult or unpleasant work to the same person

How To Prevent Workplace Bullying

The first step in preventing workplace bullying is to recognize and respond to it. In too many companies the problem is often ignored until it has caused significant damage. Unlike sexual harassment or racial discrimination, there are no specific laws against it, which can make the issue even harder to combat. Companies must create and enforce their own policies regarding bullying in the workplace and everyone must adhere to them, especially management.

Some of the biggest bullies in the workplace are often managers themselves, who take advantage of their position and authority to bully those beneath them. Any workplace bullying policy that doesn’t include management won’t be effective. Employees who feel they are being bullied by superiors must have a way of going above their heads to seek help. One of the biggest challenges involving workplace bullying is that many employees are reluctant to speak up for fear they will be ridiculed or even lose their jobs.

Employees Must Be Encouraged To Report Workplace Bullying

Companies must create a workplace culture in which employees are encouraged to report any instances of bullying. The best way of doing this is to keep such reports anonymous, and such reports should always be taken seriously. Anyone who is in violation of workplace bullying policies, whether they are rank and file employees or senior management, should be taken to task, punished, and if the behavior continues, relieved of their employment. Remember, although there are currently no laws against it, workplace bullying is just as detrimental to workers as sexual harassment or racial discrimination, because it results in the same outcome, which is disruption in the workplace, loss of productivity and a decline in employee morale.