Does your workplace have an approach to tackling bullying? Do you have a way to report it? Is it a disciplinary offense? Does your workplace policy on bullying emphasize that it affects everyone? Effective control of bullying behavior includes all members of an organization, not only the bully and their victim. In this article,
StaffScapes explores how to approach workplace abuse and bullying systematically.
Defining Workplace Bullying
Ordinary and constructive criticism is critical to effective teamwork and problem-solving. However, criticism that crosses over to intentionally harmful and targeted behavior can constitute bullying and leads to hard feelings, lost productivity, and an unhealthy work environment. Bullying behavior includes humiliating or threatening verbal and written abuse, excessive monitoring, intentionally providing misleading information about work duties, and hurtful practical jokes directed at particular individuals.
Illegal workplace harassment can result from a single
wrongful action. Bullying differs in that it typically consists of repeated behavior made up of acts that are not illegal standing alone. Workplace bullying is often prevalent among co-workers rather than between supervisors and subordinates.
Workplace Bullying Affects Entire Organizations
Bullying directly affects the person or persons who are the targets of a bully. Victims commonly suffer from anxiety, depression, and general loss of enthusiasm in the workplace. Victimized employees lead to higher absenteeism rates and healthcare costs. Targeted employees are more prone to leaving an organization, and they will not have positive things to say or recommend anyone else to the company.
An atmosphere that tolerates bullying behavior affects entire organizations. Teamwork suffers when employees know that bullying behavior is either tolerated or not remedied. Many new organizational recruits come through referrals from existing staffers. Employees are not likely to bring talented friends into an abusive work atmosphere. Companies also face a significant risk of involvement in litigation between employees.
Developing an Effective Bullying Policy
Create a written policy against workplace bullying. Define specific behaviors that are prohibited and give examples of conduct that violates the policy. Make the written plan a part of every employees' handbook of policies and procedures.
Implement the policy during your organization's routine training process. During training, use real-life examples and case studies to make the purpose of the policy clear to every employee. Role-playing and group discussion also help drive the policy home as a practical, common-sense set of guidelines.
Reliable Reporting and Discipline
A bullying policy requires a simple and clearly defined process for reporting violations. Employees also must feel completely comfortable in being open and direct in communicating issues. If employees do not believe their supervisors will support them in making reports, the policy can be counter-productive.
The policy should also clearly set out the disciplinary outcomes of policy violations. Of course, the defined disciplines must be uniformly and fairly applied, or the policy might create an even greater loss of morale and employee goodwill.
StaffScapes is the leading Professional Employer Organization (PEO) serving businesses in the Metro North area and throughout Colorado. StaffScapes navigates the complex landscape of human resource compliance, policies, and best practices. StaffScapes customizes its approach to each client's unique needs and works with all business types, from family-owned service businesses to manufacturers to disaster recovery firms that send employees all over the country. The company works as a trusted partner with every client to create a strong and responsible HR environment.