In addition to exposing your organization to legal risks, bullying also causes a serious drain on workplace morale and ultimately employee productivity, which, of course, can damage your bottom line. Employees who feel bullied are more likely to miss work for fear of being in the environment with the bully. Bullied workers are also more likely to leave their jobs, leading to high turnover rates and the loss of good talent. So, what can your organization do to stop bullying and abusive conduct in the workplace? We recommend you learn the signs of workplace bullying and implement policies to prevent it.
Many employees may not understand that these behaviors are abusive, and therefore do not understand that something is wrong. The employees feel this is a part of the workplace culture and try to deal with the behaviors on their own. However, bullying behavior rarely resolves itself without management intervention. Employers need to be aware of what is simple, offhanded and good-natured teasing, and what crosses the line into abusive conduct. We would recommend that you do an honest analysis of your organization and consider these questions about your workplace culture:
- Does it encourage and support comradery, or does it create an environment that feeds on heavy competition?
- Does it welcome the opinions of staff-level employees, or does it make them feel hesitant to speak up and offer different viewpoints, favoring only the opinions of management?
- Does it give weight to complaints and then quickly investigate those internal complaints?
- Does it lead by example from the top down and consistently demonstrate appreciation for all employees? Is there an expectation that everyone will be treated fairly and with dignity?
Once you’ve analyzed your culture, we recommend you take some steps to correct any current concerns you uncover, as well as implement a future zero-tolerance policy for abusive conduct in the workplace.