More than one in four American workers is either currently being bullied at work or has been bullied at work in the past, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute’s 2014 Workplace Bullying Survey. Unfortunately, the survey also found that in most cases where the problem was solved, it wasn’t solved by dealing with the bully.
Instead, the target of the bullying either quit or was fired, transferred, or otherwise forced out. Another survey, conducted by the Center for Aggression Management, found one employer was losing 4.8 workdays per worker, per year to workers who called in sick because they didn’t want to face a bully.
Even in the absence of physical violence, bullying is a form of aggression and abuse and should be dealt with as part of your workplace violence prevention efforts. In some cases, it may also fall under antidiscrimination laws (for example, sexual harassment laws).
Workplace violence can take many forms and has numerous causes. Keep alert to signs of potential violence and take immediate action when you recognize them. TrainingToday Preventing Workplace Violence: What Employees Need to Know
Preventing Workplace Bullying
Who needs to be trained in workplace bullying prevention? Although most bullies are bosses, bullying also occurs among coworkers of the same rank and from underlings toward bosses, so bullying prevention training can benefit all of your workers.
Why train workers in workplace bullying prevention? Bullying is a type of workplace violence that—left unaddressed—can lead to physical aggression. Even short of that, bullying can be an invisible drain on your productivity, causing targeted workers and those who are uncomfortable with the situation to avoid the workplace by calling in sick, going home early, coming in late, or staying longer at lunch.
Training Workers to Deal with Workplace Bullies
Bullies can be hard to spot and hard to deal with. They can be a nightmare for their victims at the same time that they behave completely appropriately around superiors and other coworkers. Their explanations for conflict with their victims can seem plausible to their bosses, with whom they often enjoy good relations.
This Preventing Workplace Violence presentation will help you to identify the causes of workplace violence, spot the signs of potential violence, follow required security procedures, and respond effectively to violent acts. Get the details.
If they’ve been victimized by a bully, workers may think it’s not worth it to bother reporting this behavior—they may fear the bully, their self-image may be damaged by the bullying, or they may believe the behavior is “just part of the job.” But your employees should be aware that they should always report abusive or aggressive behavior, because this behavior:
- May be illegal. Workplace bullying is not generally illegal, but if it crosses a line into physical or sexual harassment, or involves a member of a protected group, laws may apply.
- Violates company policy. Even when a bully’s behavior violates no law, it can violate company policy. Consequences for bullying behavior should be outlined in your company’s violence prevention and antiharassment policies.
- Will be investigated. Complaints about bullying behavior must be thoroughly investigated, and appropriate disciplinary action must be taken.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll provide tips for identifying a workplace bully.