You’ve likely encountered bullies as you were growing up. And if you were the target of one of these mean-spirited individuals, you couldn’t wait until you grew up and were rid of them for good.
Guess what? They haven’t gone away—at least, not entirely. One or more of them could be in your company right now, intimidating other workers and spreading malicious gossip or outright lies. Bullies love to steal credit from others, and then insult or even threaten them if they complain.
If you have been made aware of this type of behavior in your office, have you dealt with it or chose not to get involved in these “personal” matters? There are many good reasons to deal with bullying, not the least of which is the devastating effect it can have on morale.
Here are a few things to consider:
Look at the statistics.
Check out the results of a workplace survey courtesy of the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI).
- 19% of Americans are bullied, another 19% witness it
- 61% of Americans are aware of abusive conduct in the workplace
- 60.4 million Americans are affected by it
- 70% of perpetrators are men; 60% of targets are women
- Hispanics are the most frequently bullied race
- 61% of bullies are bosses, the majority (63%) operate alone
- 40% of bullied targets are believed to suffer adverse health effects
- 29% of targets remain silent about their experiences
- 71% of employer reactions are harmful to targets
In the survey, bullying was defined as “repeated mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees; abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, work sabotage, or verbal abuse.” The survey also reported that many employers are not taking responsibility for its prevention and correction.
How can you tell that one of your workers is dealing with a bully?
The first step is to create an environment in which employees can feel comfortable speaking up when they believe they are being bullied. Once your workers understand they can approach you, it’s essential to take these complaints seriously. Some of the complaints might not reach the level of bullying, but the more information you can gather, the sooner you can prevent a more severe problem down the road.
It’s in your best interest to prevent or stop bullying.
Employers have at least two powerful incentives to prevent workplace bullying: holding down turnover rates and boosting production. Employers should consider implementing an anti-bullying policy and include interactive training sessions, so each of your employees actively participates in understanding the system.
Although there is no federal anti-bullying law at this time, employers should start incorporating an anti-bullying policy into their discrimination and sexual harassment policies. The training will prepare everyone as the current shift towards state anti-bullying laws takes hold.
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