Workplace bullying is a real problem in a professional setting. This issue might not get as much attention as wage gaps or work-life balance in the improved economy, but a whopping 96 percent of people surveyed in 2014 said they experienced some type of bullying in the workplace during that year. The best way companies can handle bullying is to have a written process and policy in place.
Why Is Workplace Bullying an Important Issue?
Employees should feel comfortable in their office environment. Workplace bullying can affect productivity, turnover rates, sales, employee morale and company profits. Therefore, bullying at the office is more than just a problem that pertains to one particular person. It can affect the viability of the entire company.
Why Have a Written Process and Policy?
Having a written policy and a subsequent process for handling workplace bullying does several things. First, it creates a culture of anti-bullying. Every employee, from the CEO down to entry-level workers, should receive and read a copy of this policy. After reading it, each worker should sign a document stating he read and understood the policy.
Second, a written guideline provides a legal framework that covers an employer and employees in the event of bullying. The written policy details the reporting structure, the timeframe for taking action and interviewing witnesses, and how to handle claims. The written policy also defines bullying at the office.
How Do Companies Define Workplace Bullying?
Bullying can happen in the breakroom at lunch, on social media between co-workers, on the way in the door to the office building and even at the company's summer picnic. Bullying is a behavior that leads to a hostile working environment, which makes it difficult to nearly impossible for someone to work normally. Under federal law, a person can file a claim for bullying at the workplace if the action affects a certain class of people, such as only women or people of one religion. Even though a comprehensive law only covers protected classes, it doesn't mean businesses should not do something about it.
Who Should Take the Lead?
HR and executives should coach managers and supervisors at all levels of a company to exemplify and note the standards of behavior at the office. No one should dread coming to work because of someone else's bad behavior. Supervisors who practice an anti-bullying culture are the go-to people on the front lines of the war against bullying because they deal with everyday issues in the workplace. Managers and business professionals already have basic leadership skills, so it shouldn't be too much to add an anti-bullying culture to their repertoire with a little training and know-how from the right people.
Companies might consider holding anti-bullying training or seminars, especially if they are larger businesses with a lot of departments. Managers can attend a dedicated seminar or training one evening to strengthen their concepts of bullying and how to handle the issue.
Once managers start thinking about this issue, handling workplace bullying becomes second nature. The sooner a company starts this culture shift, the better the work environment becomes for everyone.
Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net