You want your employees to feel welcome, safe, and happy when they come to work. You want the sight of your workplace to make them smile, and you want them to have camaraderie with their coworkers. In an ideal world everyone would get along perfectly and there would never be any drama within your team. But that’s not always the case. If you thought that bullying stops at the playground, think again. It can happen and does happen all-too-often in the workplace.
While harassment and bullying at the workplace can have many different forms, it’s usually considered to be an instance in which someone is using power or intimidation to hurt someone else. Sometimes the behavior is not intentional, but often it is. And that’s why you need to both take a stand against bullying and take steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
Bullying at the workplace can have serious negative effects on the target’s mental, emotional, and even physical health. It can lead to feelings of low self-worth, depression, anxiety, and even headaches in the person being bullied. For you as an employer, the cost of bullying can come in the form of lawsuits if the behavior goes ignored, but there are other effects that are far-reaching and can seriously hurt your business. Let’s take a look at some of them and then talk about how you can prevent bullying in your workplace.
1. The bullied employee might not show up for work.
If there’s someone being cruel at the office or workplace, the targeted employee might just decide it’s easier to stay home. They might call in sick or have other reasons to not go to work while the true motive is that they’re unhappy and want to avoid their bully.
2. Your business might face high employee turnover.
People don’t want to stay somewhere that they don’t feel welcome or appreciated. If they feel like the workplace is hostile, they might leave. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 25% of respondents to a 2014 survey felt like quitting was the best solution to a bullying problem. Preventing bullying can help you reduce your employee turnover rate.
If your employees leave, that means you have to hire and train new employees, which is costly. Your workplace can become unstable with the constant flow of new people. Plus, if the new employees notice that the workplace seems hostile, they might not want to work with or even interact with other people. This can all result in an unhappy, unmotivated workplace.
3. Your company reputation will suffer.
Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. The person being bullied might confide in their family or friends, who might pass on the word to others, who might talk to other people in the community. You get the picture. If people get wind of the fact that people aren’t treated very well at your business, they’ll stop going to your business. This especially has an effect on businesses like restaurants that depend on recommendations.
Your company’s reputation can even deter potential job-seekers. Who wants to work somewhere that the employees aren’t treated well?
How your business can prevent workplace bullying.
There are some things that you can put in motion to prevent bullying at work in the first place.
1. Know the signs.
You need to be able to recognize when bullying is happening in your own workplace. If you’re alert to the signs, you might be able to address the problem before it starts to spiral. Some of the indicators of bullying are…
- Not addressing the accomplishments of an employee
- Not giving an employee the chance to gain experience
- Constantly changing expectations and rules
- Publically calling out or shaming an employee
- Name-calling or insulting someone
- Hovering over the employee’s work
- Ignoring or deliberately excluding someone
- Setting someone up to fail at a task
2. Have a clear workplace bullying policy.
Your business needs to take a very clear stance against workplace bullying, and you can do that by defining what behaviors will not be tolerated. Everyone needs to know your expectations of their behavior, and the consequences of not following these expectations need to be established.
3. Make sure your employees know how to report bullying.
You should have multiple channels to report bullying. If the only way for someone to report workplace bullying is to inform their supervisor, and their supervisor is the bully…well, you can see why that would be a problem.
4. Investigate all claims of bullying.
You need to make sure to document, investigate, and follow up on all claims of bullying. Not taking action in the event of a complaint opens you up to potential lawsuits and sends a negative message to your employees. It’s important that you do everything you can to reduce your employment practices risk.
5. Provide training for your employees.
You need to raise awareness of the effects of workplace bullying and further explore what constitutes workplace bullying. One way to do that is having training for all employees so that everyone is on the same page as to what creates a positive workplace.
6. Provide clear job descriptions.
By having detailed job descriptions that establish responsibilities for all roles, you let everyone know what’s expected of them. You define what is and is not within their purview, and that gives everyone their own role and sense of purpose within the business.
Workplace bullying isn’t something that should be taken lightly. As an employer, it’s important that you eliminate it so that your employees are excited and happy to come to work. You don’t want anyone to feel ashamed or fearful to come to work. The emotional effects that bullying can have on someone are long-lasting. Take steps to prevent bullying and to create a safe workplace for everyone.
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