Workplace bullying ranges from harmless to impolite or abusive behaviour where one person threatens or humiliates another person. Workplace bullying exists in organisations between a person with authority and his subordinate or coworkers.
According to a study conducted at the University of Phoenix, 75% of respondents were witnesses to workplace bullying or a target of workplace bullying. Another study found workplace bullying had a negative effect on co-workers that led to 400 hours of absenteeism and loss of 200 hours of productivity.
Workplace bullying leads to loss of talented resources, mental stress, and affects the self-esteem of the targeted person. Though many organisations have strict policies to control bullies, it is hard to find out bullying.
Reducing Workplace Bullying
In an organisation, both employers and employees must work together to reduce the risks of workplace bullying. A workplace without bullying will happen unless the organisation follows a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying. Here are ways to reduce workplace bullying.
Role of employers in reducing workplace bullying
First, it is the responsibility of employers to accept bullying as a crucial issue that will interfere with the routine functioning of the organisation. They must interfere and think about discussions and training programmes to eradicate bullying from their organisation.
Employers must understand the importance of training programmes that train them in stress management, negative behaviour management, and workplace communication. The training must discuss the importance of interpersonal relationships among employees to build a healthy work environment.
Develop simple standard procedures for better communication and positive behaviour in the workplace. Employers must build a system where everyone’s role is distinctly clear that encourages employees to support each other in all assignments.
Employers must provide training to the managers to treat their colleagues fairly and empower employees who have faced workplace bullying.
Positive work culture will end bullying in the workplace. Employers must train employees to handle a heavy workload, workplace stress and work independently with minimum interference from their superiors.
Employers must respond immediately if workplace bullying is reported. Action must be taken against workplace bullies. Arrange professional counseling for the victims of workplace bullying and provide emotional support to help them cope with the situation.
Role of employees in reducing workplace bullying
Next, the employees must understand if they are targets of workplace bullying. The victims of workplace bullying must realise the problem is not with their performance and report it immediately. Employees who have faced workplace bullying must record when and where they faced bullying.
With the help of training programmes, employees must develop the skills that help them cope with workplace bullying.
Employees must know how to ignore angry behaviour from their colleagues and don’t let that affect them personally. Learning to handle emotions will help them handle stress better.
Identifying signs of bullying
Workplace bullying is a slow process of both emotional and psychological manipulation that is difficult to detect. As bullying is not under the law, bullies can get away with it even if a workplace policy against bullying is in place. Here are some signs of bullying at work that will help you recognise the pattern and identify it as a bullying situation.
Some of the common signs of bullying are not visible but affect employees. They are: creating a feeling of uselessness, withholding information, taking credit for other people’s ideas without acknowledging them, removing someone from their responsibility without intimation, setting impossible targets, constantly changing assignments, and showing the sudden change of moods and emotions.
Besides these invisible signs of bullying, there are visible signs of bullying that tell the person is being bullied. They are: shouting at an employee, showing anger non-verbally or verbally, stalking, lurking around someone’s desk without their permission, humiliating publically in front, threatening disciplinary action or termination, using abusive words, and preventing the growth of the employee.
Any repeated unacceptable behaviour in the workplace leads to workplace bullying. If you find any of your colleagues or others away from the group and don’t interact casually with others, volunteer yourself to know if they are victims of workplace bullying. It can help them open up and share their problems.
Dealing with Complaints
In an organisation, the management must take action immediately against a complaint regarding workplace bullying. Never ignore complaints, for it can build an assumption that such behaviour must be tolerated in your organisation, leading to an unhealthy work environment.
Next, management personnel must avoid negative personal comments not related to the assigned jobs. Always provide constructive criticism as feedback on performance is shared to improve their performance and not make them feel bullied.
Establishing Codes of Behaviour
Establishing a set of values will help to control workplace bullying. To begin with, the employers must follow the set of values implemented in the organisation. Then, the employees will also adhere to it consistently.
Addressing the Root of the Problem
If you want to stop workplace bullying in your organisation, try to find out the reason behind the behaviour of the workplace bully. It will also help the bullies to transform and build positive relationships with their colleagues and other employees.
The workplace bullies usually have low self-esteem, and they bully others to hide their actual feelings. If you could expose their weaknesses, it would help them change and behave normally. Act fast to nip bullying in the initial stage to prevent it from growing into a big issue. It will protect people who are vulnerable to bullying and maintain a healthy relationship in the workplace.
Promoting a Positive Workplace Culture
A positive workplace culture builds mutual respect between employees. And so, it is good to maintain a positive workplace culture to stop workplace bullying.
Follow a set of values in the recruitment process, so that you will recruit talented candidates who will know how to express themselves. They will grow along with their colleagues and not go against them.
Why to reduce the risks of workplace bullying
Workplace bullying leads to the increased absence of employees and a higher employee turnover. Besides creating an inferior workplace environment, it increases stress and decreases the morale of employees. It also affects the mental health and the physical health of the employees.
Workplace bullying will bring down the reputation of the organisation. It will affect the recruitment of new employees also. Preventing workplace bullying will help to maintain a healthy workplace where employees are more productive and motivated.
Every employee is responsible for creating and maintaining a safe workplace. And every organisation must take care to build a culture of dignity and respect for their employees. Management personnel must be available all time to provide advice for employees experiencing bullying in the workplace. It will build the confidence of employees who seek help due to bullying.
Workplace bullying exists in a poor workplace environment and a poor work culture that tolerates bullying. When workplace bullying poses a risk to the health and safety of employees, it affects production also.
Having a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying in an organisation builds a healthy work environment. Employees who work in a healthy and happy workplace avoid conflicts between their colleagues and boost productivity to a greater extent.