Most of our time is spent at work. Although not everyone enjoys their work, we all have a right to be at ease in the workplace. Your workplace ought to be supportive, where everyone can work toward their objectives without being subjected to undue attention or pressure. There is a perception that bullying is something that only happens in school. Bullying affects people of all ages and in all settings. It is never restricted to the classroom. In fact, workplace bullying is more common than you might think.
Workplace bullying is an unfortunate event that can occur in any company. It can take many forms, from verbal abuse and threats to more subtle actions like withholding information or assigning impossible tasks to employees. Bullying in the workplace can cause victims severe psychological harm and create a hostile work environment, regardless of the specific strategies and tactics used. It has the potential to significantly affect employee well-being, which is critical to the success of any business. Even though it is challenging to eliminate bullying in the workplace, HR can take steps to address the problem if it does occur.
In this post, we’ll take you over what workplace bullying is, a few warning signs to look out for, and how to deal with a bullying situation successfully. Some common bullying in the workplace includes:
- Making offensive jokes about an employee
- Gossiping about an employee
- Setting unattainable standards to cause failure
- Threatening abuse or harm
- Unfairly assigning challenging duties to only one employee
- Shouting at an employee
You may find it challenging to identify bullying, let alone to decide how to respond to bullies at work, given the variety of ways it can manifest. Consider these various forms of bullying below, which may assist you in recognizing and comprehending how to deal with workplace bullying when you observe one.
- Verbal abuse – Verbal abuse harms a person’s performance at work and makes them dread going to work every day. Mean-spirited jokes, humiliation, insults, gossip, or mockery of another employee are all examples of verbal abuse. The person who is verbally bullied may no longer enjoy what they used to because they feel shame and guilt around their abuser.
- Corporate bullying – Bullying becomes ingrained in the company’s culture due to toxic workplace policies directly contributing to corporate bullying. This type of bullying includes making employees work longer hours, compelling them to compete with one another to achieve organizational goals, imposing unrealistic goals and expectations on them, and putting additional pressure on those who are unable to adapt to impossible standards.
- Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment refers to any unwelcome or inappropriate sexual advances, such as lewd remarks, sexual propositions, or inappropriate touching. The victim of sexual harassment may experience humiliation and degrading feelings. This kind of bullying can be hard to spot, and the bully might try to pass it off as a “joke” at times. To recognize instances of sexual harassment, one must have a keen eye.
- Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying involves posting messages on social media that amount to bullying. Unfortunately, the prevalence of technology today makes cyberbullying a prominent form of bullying. Cyberbullying can be relentless, as it doesn’t stop after your work hours. To deal with this kind of bullying, it’s essential to be cautious and keep tabs on employees.
- Retaliation bullying – Retaliation bullying often occurs when the bully tries to punish the victim for something they didn’t like. The workplace bully may respond by excluding the individual from activities or conversations, demoting them to a lower position, cutting their pay (if they hold a management position), or finding other ways to make the individual suffer and regret their actions.
Effect on Employees:
Bullying in the workplace can have a significant negative impact. It is essential that we comprehend them before we can take the appropriate measures to stop something like bullying from occurring in the workplace. The following are the effects on employees due to workplace bullying:
- Low morale – When workplace bullying occurs, it can negatively impact all employees’ morale. Witnessing or experiencing bullying can make people feel unsafe, anxious, and stressed. It can be a traumatic experience for not only the victim but those around the victim who is aware of what is going on — and feel helpless.
- Reduced productivity: Employee productivity can also suffer as a result of bullying. This can happen when employees who are being bullied are too stressed or distracted to work well. Employees may also experience a general sense of unease due to workplace bullying, which may result in a decline in overall productivity.
- Increased absenteeism:Bullied workers may begin to take more sick days or leave work earlier more frequently. They might be too stressed or anxious to go to work, or they might be afraid of being bullied back, which would cause them to skip work frequently.
- Increased turnover rate – Employees who are subjected to bullying at work may choose to leave the company entirely to escape the harassment. This can result in higher turnover rates. Besides, employees who witness harassment may likewise decide to leave the organization to avoid a hostile workplace environment.
- Legal implications:Bullying in the workplace can sometimes result in legal action leading to high settlements or judgment costs. Due to its poor reputation, the business may find it challenging to hire the best candidates, resulting in a steady decline in the quality of its work over time.
Five ways HR can tackle workplace bullying:
You can do the following things to help stop bullying at work and save you a lot of trouble.
- Open-door policy – Having an open-door policy, where employees feel at ease bringing any concerns to HR, is one of the best ways to prevent bullying in the workplace. From sexual harassment to verbal bullying, employees may encounter various issues. Employees ought to have confidence in contacting HR, regardless of the seriousness of the problem.
- Hold managers accountable: Managers are crucial to the fight against workplace bullying because they frequently receive the first call from victims or witnesses who report bullying and may have the most opportunities to observe it. Train the managers to identify the indicators of bullying and respond appropriately. Managers should be held accountable for enforcing a zero-tolerance policy against bullying.
- Anti-bullying policy– It is vital for the HR Department to create an anti-bullying policy that addresses workplace bullying and outlines what constitutes bullying and the consequences that the employee might face engaging in bullying. Another way to emphasize the company’s anti-bullying stance is to have a mission statement that describes the company’s culture and encapsulates the company’s attitude toward bullying.
- Take all reports seriously-Employees are likely to feel more at ease reporting bullying to employers who prioritize swiftly investigating allegations of bullying in the workplace. Not only is it beneficial to the culture, morale, and success of your company to investigate bullying, but it can also assist your business in adhering to anti-harassment laws and regulations.
- Support and take action: HR will then take the necessary action based on the investigation’s findings. This could include counseling the employee who was bullied or terminating the employee for unacceptable behaviour. Bullying in the workplace can be emotionally draining. Supporting employees who have been bullied can speed up their recovery, making them feel more at ease and content at work. By creating an organizational culture in which employees feel esteemed and safe, employees are bound to be satisfied.
Bullying in the workplace has a negative impact not only on employee morale but also on the company’s reputation, costs employees their jobs, increases stress levels, and even results in lawsuits. Be bold and tell your HR department if you see someone being bullied regularly at work or if you yourself have been bullied, especially if you need help with how to deal with a bully at work. Feel free to quit if the company doesn’t take action; provide them with as much information and evidence as possible about incidents.