Workplace Bullying is repeated mistreatment of an employee by their manager(s) or coworker(s). It may include the following, non-inclusive, abusive conduct:
- Threatening, insulting, intimidating or humiliating behaviors–verbal (yelling, targeting same person for practical jokes, blaming without justification) and nonverbal (gestures, physical proximity)
- Work interference which prevents work from getting done (excluding the employee from work-related activities or not providing necessary information to perform their work)
- A combination of one or more of the above
Many employers look the other way or encourage employees to solve their differences on their own. The recommendation, however, is to address these behaviors proactively. Why? Because it protects your business’ bottom-line. Targeted employees, and co-workers, may exhibit poor attendance, high turnover, incur on high medical expenses, and are more likely to issue formal complaints to external labor agencies.
While bullying is rarely considered an unlawful conduct, it is illegal when it violates federal and state laws that prohibit retaliation, harassment and discrimination in the workplace. My best recommendation is to actively prevent and manage bullying by:
- Creating, communicating and enforcing an anti-bullying policy: The policy should include expected behavior while in the workplace, specifics around reporting the behavior to management or Human Resources, and potential disciplinary measures which may include termination of employment. It should also note that all reports will be investigated timely, thoroughly and in a sensible way.
- Encouraging employees to communicate with each other openly but respectfully. This is best achieved when it’s demonstrated by the leaders of the organization.
- Investigating all complaints and addressing the behavior promptly.
These are just a few tips on how to curtail the behavior. Request a free consultation for more recommendations on how to establish a healthy, safe, and productive work environment.