What is Workplace Bullying?

And why is it such a problem? What can be done to stop workplace bullying?

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute:

“Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:

  • Verbal abuse.
  • Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating or intimidating
  • Work interference – sabotage – which prevents work from getting done.”

(See link: http://www.healthyworkplacebill.org/problem.php)

According to research, 35% of workers are victims of workplace bullying with about 10 to 15% experiencing chronic bullying. These numbers are very similar to school bullying.

One of the costs associated with allowing school bullying to continue is that bullies don’t grow up and stop bullying. Bullying is a learned behavior strategy that works for the bully and they take this skill into the workplace with them.

How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Stopping workplace bullying is difficult. Victims must be supported. Employers must take the threat of bullying seriously and understand how it is negatively effecting their business so that they care enough to do the work to make it stop. And staff and management need to be involved to effect solutions.

(If you are an HR professional – consider taking my Workplace Bullying for HR Professionals course – https://humanistlearning.com/workplacebullying1/ to learn more about how you can help stop bullying in your workplace. This course has been approved by the HRCI for continuing education credits. 

What does this look like in real life?

Ideally, a company will have in place an anti-bullying policy that clearly defines what bullying is, and policies for reporting and investigating allegations of bullying. A good policy will also outline consequences to employees who are found to be guilty of bullying.

The sad truth is that it doesn’t matter how sincere a company is, if the employees don’t trust that anything will come of it, they won’t report bullying for fear of reprisal (which is a very legitimate concern). If they don’t report it, management can’t do anything about it.

Which is why it is important to make sure that witnesses of bullying are encouraged to speak up and speak out on behalf of their co-workers who are being victimized.

This Takes Time

Getting a bully to stop takes time. Victims must be willing to report consistently. This will cause the bullies to cycle through what is known as an extinction burst (see The Bully Vaccine for more information). This extinction burst will help management determine that this isn’t just a conflict between two people, it’s actual bullying.

This doesn’t take long, but it is really hard on the victim so it is critical that they know they are being supported through this process, otherwise they will give up and quit and you will be left with the toxic individual harming your company while your good employees jump ship to get away from the trauma that is being inflicted upon them.

In short, bullying is everywhere. There are bullies in just about every company and they are harming your brand. They are usually not your best employees and they drive your best employees away.

Stop allowing them to run the show. Get serious and learn what you need to do to get them to stop. And again, if you are an HR professional reading this – take my course – Workplace Buyllying for HR Professionals  You will be glad you did.

Please share with others. 



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