Workplace Bullying—It’s a Bottom Line Issue!

The following is an excerpt from our article that was published by HR.BLR.com on October 12, 2015.. The full article can be found at: http://hr.blr.com/HR-news/Health-Safety/Violence-in-Workplace/Workplace-bullying-bottom-line-issue#

Bullies are all around us—even at work! According to a recent study by The Workplace Bullying Institute, nearly 30% of us have been bullied at work. Bullying can have serious implications for both the victim but also on the organization as a whole.
Bullying left unchecked can impact morale and increase turnover if as even employees who are not being bullied see that their leadership isn’t dealing with the bully and decide that they’d rather work elsewhere. So, bullying can impact productivity and the bottom line. Bullying can also have a ripple effect—bullies breed other bullies!
What is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying is defined as the repeated infliction of international, malicious, and abusive behavior that interferes with a person’s ability to do his/her work and is substantial enough to cause physical and/or psychological harm that a reasonable person would find hostile or offensive.

Workplace bullying can take many forms including:
· Shouting or screaming at a co-worker
· Singling out a co-worker for unjustified criticism or blame
· Excluding a co-worker from work activities or social events
· Ignoring work contributions
· Using language that embarrasses or humiliates a co-worker
· Making jokes that repeatedly target the same person

The bad news is that bullies can be anyone in the organization—including managers and leaders. I knew of a CEO who seemed to enjoy picking one person a week to bully. In staff meetings he would verbally attack the selected individual and go at them until the rest of the leadership team was ready to bolt from the room or climb under the table. Not only were they incredibly sorry for their colleague, they knew their turn was coming.
I’ve seen employees bully their boss and others bully a peer.. So, organizations must realize that, if anyone can be a bully and anyone can be bullied, having a policy against bullying is their first defense. Policies can be helpful but to really have an impact, the policy has to be enforced and the subject of bullying discussed so that everyone knows the organization has zero tolerance for bullies.

Elements of a Workplace Bullying Policy
A workplace bullying policy should include:
· Purpose or objective of the policy
· Who it covers (all employees, managers, executives,)
· Definition of workplace bullying*
· Examples of behaviors that will not be tolerated
· How to report workplace bullying
· Investigation process
· Consequences of workplace bullying

Communication Process
Once you have your policy developed, this is a great time for a communication blitz on the topic of workplace bullying. Train managers on how to spot bullying and how to report it and on how your policy works. Hold meetings with all employees to discuss the policy and the consequences of workplace bullying.

Let everyone know that each person has a responsibility to keep bullying out of your organization. This is another place where “if you see it, say it” applies. Everyone should be aware of what constitutes bullying behavior and what to do if it happens to them or if they see it happening around them. Silence validates bullying behaviors and, since we know bullying can have a negative effect on the organization as a whole, each employee should be expected to monitor the behaviors around them.
Employees need to know that if they are the victim of bullying behavior, the first step should be to let the bully know that they are not going to accept it. Then, they should let their manager or HR know it happened. If their physical well-being is threatened, they should leave the room or building and call in for help. Most bullying in the workplace is verbal so this may not be an issue but it certainly should be discussed..

Bottom Line

Most of us want to work for organizations where we feel productive and where our contributions to be valued. Workplace bullying can impact our organization’s productivity and therefore, our bottom line. Organizations today can’t afford to be silent on this issue—it’s too important to be overlooked.


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