What are you doing about workplace bullying? You wouldn’t accept sexual harassment as normal in the workplace, nor would you accept violence in your workplace, but there’s a 40% chance that bullying is happening in your workplace right now (1), so not doing anything about workplace bullying is taking a pretty big risk.
What is workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying involves repeated malicious mistreatment of one employee by one or more coworkers. Sometimes the bullying is intentional, chronic and takes the form of unrealistic job demands, unreasonable criticism, an inconsistent and unfair work environment, refusal to give credit where it’s due, insults, screaming, put-downs, refusal to communicate, and other forms of disrespectful and abusive behaviour (2).
Less frequently, workplace bullying is unintentional and comes from employees who are overly competitive, socially inept, or have substance abuse issues.
According to the Canada Safety Council, 72% of workplace bullying comes from people in positions of authority (3), so it’s not correct to assume that bullying is only happening between peers.
What is the effect of bullying on business?
The effect of workplace bullying on your business can be remarkably damaging: Increased absenteeism, increased employee turnover, stress, increased costs for employee assistance programs, more frequent workplace accidents, decreased morale and productivity, bad corporate image and poor customer service(4). Businesses spend a great deal of effort trying to minimize risk in virtually every aspect of their operations, so it doesn’t take a great leap of logic to understand how any of those effects individually would be worrisome, but cumulatively they’re potentially devastating to your business, your employees, your managers and your customers.
Even worse, take a look at these breathtaking statistics about “what stopped the bullying behaviour?” from a 2017 survey on workplace bullying (6):
- It hasn’t stopped -25%
- Target of bullying behaviour quits to escape mistreatment – 23%
- Target of bullying behaviour experiences retaliation then quits – 12%
- Target is terminated – 8%
- Target is transferred within same company – 11%
- Bully is punished but kept job – 17%
- Bully is terminated – 11%
- Bully quit – 8%
- Company investigated, changed policy, or did something positive – 10%
Adding those numbers up, we can see that in 36% of cases, the bully sees some consequence for their behaviour, but in 54% of cases the victim of bullying loses their job. Clearly, there is a substantial problem with how organizations are failing to deal with bullies.
So, what are you doing about workplace bullying in your organization?
Does your workplace have a policy around bullying? If so, is it enforced? Many organizations give lip service to fair and equitable treatment of employees, but when push comes to shove, human resources fail to enforce policies and procedures that are supposed to protect targets from bullies. Having a policy that isn’t enforced is doubly damaging as employees see what is happening and know the organization is failing them by not holding the bully accountable.
Does your workplace provide training on bullying and other forms of harassment in the workplace? If so, is it mandatory for everyone including managers and executives? Some organizations provide opportunities for training, but make it optional for managers or executives, which is clearly a mistake when 72% of bullies are in positions of authority. For this kind of training to work, it needs to be company-wide, and it needs to be reinforced on a regular basis. Fortunately, e-learning courses on this topic are cost-effective to develop and provide fantastic ROI by avoiding costly litigation in the future.
The best approach is to treat bullying like any other kind of violence in the workplace: Develop robust policies and procedures to handle it, make sure those policies are enforced, and provide mandatory and frequent training on violence and bullying and harassment in the workplace, so bullies and targets alike know what is not acceptable and how to deal with it (6).
As always, Verticc is ready to help with your e-learning needs.
1 Lee R.T., and Brotheridge C.M. “When prey turns predatory: Workplace bullying as predictor of counteragression / bullying, coping, and well-being”. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 2006, 00 (0): 1-26
2 Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/bullying.html
3 Canada Safety Council https://canadasafetycouncil.org/workplace-safety/working-bully
4 Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/bullying.html
5 Workplace Bullying Institute http://www.workplacebullying.org/category/science/
6 Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/bullying.html