Operating a business is difficult when it comes to relationships between workers. Having a harmonious workforce leads to the most production possible. Sour relationships create lower numbers and profits. An even worse level of disharmony can occur when there is workplace bullying going on. This can lead to lowered numbers, dropped morale, and even the loss of good employees. This is why management must do everything they can to prevent workplace bullying.
The Commonality of Workplace Bullying
Workplace bullying is more common than most people think. A study by CareerBuilder found that “Twenty-eight percent of workers reported they have felt bullied at work." Nearly one in five (19 percent) of these workers left their jobs because of it. This is a significant percentage of workers who are experiencing bullying on the job. Bullying makes it harder for employees to perform. When bullying occurs within a company, they could find themselves losing some of their best employees.
Employees should stand up for themselves against bullying. However, management also needs to have a hand in mitigating this behavior. Make it clear that bullying behavior is not tolerated. Make it known there are consequences for workplace bullying. Employees need to report these incidents to management and management must document them. A clear line of communication between staff and management is important. A culture in which employees can comfortably express concerns is imperative.
Management must rapidly take action regarding any report of bullying. If they do not, employees will feel it is pointless to report them. This leads to continued bullying and the likelihood of pushing employees out. Sometimes management justifies not taking action because the employee doing the bullying is a good worker. This fosters a level of distrust among other employees. The work culture must show you take employee concerns seriously, regardless of who it involves.
Taking appropriate action on the report. In an ideal world, people would not lie or skew their stories. This is often not the reality. The Human Resources department must conduct a proper investigation of the incident(s). They must ensure that all the information is gathered. This includes what exactly happened, statements from any witnesses, accounts from both sides, and other such details. Through meticulous data gathering, management will get a proper account of what happened. The corrective action should depend on the severity of the incident. Something as simple as a meeting to discuss the inappropriate behavior is a mild corrective action. If the bullying continues, more drastic corrective actions are necessary.
Ethics in the Workplace
To oversee and prevent bullying in the workplace, assign an individual or team to oversee ethics within the company. The Department of Human Resources is generally tasked with ethical oversight. However, smaller companies don’t have such luxury. Therefore, the individual or team tasked to oversee ethics must get trained in making effective management decisions. They must understand compassionate resolution handling. Whoever has the mantle of this position needs to make an objective and sometimes difficult decisions. In some cases, a bully continues their behavior over and over regardless of consequences. In such a case, let them go.