We assume that bullying is a problem that is limited to schools, playgrounds and children and youth.
However, that’s not so. Bullying has become more prevalent at the workplace and even the elderly are being bullied more often. Although the nature of workplace bullying is different, and can be more psychological in nature, its effects are still harmful.
Workplace bullying can affect work performance and can cause permanent damage. It can result in a person feeling powerless, traumatized, even disoriented and confused and has a definitive impact on their work performance and even on their relationships on and off the job. It can create less commitment at work, increased absenteeism and increased job stress. The victim may feel powerless to report what’s going on and the bullying continues. It can also result in suicide when unchecked.
A study conducted by Herschcovis and Barling of Ontario’s Queens University, found that workplace bullying inflicts more harm than does sexual harassment.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute’s 2014 survey, 27% of Americans have suffered abusive conduct at work; another 21% have witnessed it, and a whopping 72% are aware that workplace bullying happens.
Bullying by co-workers may take the form of exclusion, berating a person publically, spreading false rumors or false accusations, insults, intimidation and even taking credit for another’s work and achievements.
When bullying comes from a boss or supervisor, it’s often harder to detect because we take direction from above.
However, punitive treatment, screaming, overloading work, ignoring or undervaluing an employee is often bullying that goes unreported because people are even more reluctant to ‘rat’ on a supervisor for fear of the bullying escalating or losing their job. Both employers and employees are to be accountable for the treatment of coworkers or subordinates and act respectively with one another.
Workplace bullying can also adversely affect the company’s productivity, morale and create a hostile environment, increase absenteeism and worse may result in legal cases and workers compensation. Employers have options to address workplace bullying rather than sweep it under the rug.
There are actions that companies should take immediately to insure that their employees will not be at risk:
- Create clear policies and reporting procedures that specifically address bullying. First, identify what it is and what forms it takes so everyone is clear about what bullying behaviors look like on the job.
- Provide Education: Educate the employees and managers with in-service training to be able to identify, respond and report behaviors that may be considered bullying. Pretending that it doesn’t exist is not an option!
- Establish and outline consequences that will be upheld to eradicate it. Alleged cases of bullying need to be investigated and not dismissed. Disciplinary action is to be outlined in the training and procedures, and enforced when it‘s apparent. Bullies are to be held accountable and disciplinary action needs to be consistent to be effective
The ultimate goal is to create a company or organization that is built on team work, cooperation, collaboration and support. A company that upholds those standards and promotes positive and congenial interaction is one that is more productive and successful. Employees will be more committed, more satisfied, and more likely to work harder and stay longer with the company.
For more posts by Jo Anne White, PhD please visit here.
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