Bullying is something that many of us unfortunately experience at some point in our life. A common misconception people have is that bullies somehow evaporate after high school or college when they in fact continue on into the workplace. They wreak havoc on culture, decrease morale around the office, and even cause some of your valuable employees to leave.
So how big of a problem is this “bullying” thing and what can managers do about it? Let’s find out!
Stats & Evidence
According to data from the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35% of American workers have either seen or personally experienced bullying in their workplace. If you are in the 65% of people who have never experienced it before, pat yourself on the back. Bullies can cause big problems for managers including a decrease in overall productivity for all team members.
When bullies are around, people are less satisfied than they could be. Studies show that “satisfied” employees performed 12% better while “unsatisfied” employees performed 10% worse.
So, if you could get rid of one or two bullies on staff and improve your productivity by 12% would you? I certainly would consider it!
Why You Need to Address Bullies
The tough part about bullying though is that it’s hardly ever legislated or addressed. Other forms of abuse like harassment and discrimination are specifically addressed in both state and federal laws, while only some workplaces have their own policies in that same vein. Also, the legal definition of “bullying” is ambiguous at best, which makes blanket legislation and implementation difficult within your workplace. The best advice I can give in this area is to have your HR department have a clear-cut zero-tolerance policy and stick to it. You will do more damage to your company by letting bullies go unpunished or continue to work for your company than if they were replaced with someone else.
Think about this, from a candidate’s perspective, a company gets a “+5” in my eyes if they told me they let go someone in the position I was applying for because of their poor attitude and negative impact around others. It shows me that they have high standards and promote a positive culture, one that most candidates want to join in the first place. It also shows me that if I am doing a good job and they bring someone on with a poor attitude, it will be addressed and negativity won’t be allowed to spread and impact me.
Do your best to first address and/or get rid of bullies before they start to do some real damage in your organization.
Candidate Driven Marketplace
One thing to keep in mind though is that each situation is different. Over the last two years, some companies have had to cut back on staff and money has been a little bit tighter. This had led to fewer employees on staff lead which leads to more employees having to wear multiple hats. This, in turn, creates more added stress across the board which can play a factor in how people interact with each other. Please take each negative situation and evaluate it in a vacuum to see if there is legitimate bullying going on or if this is just passing stress that can be addressed through mediation.
Whatever you do, don’t just ignore it. Do your best to take care of bullies when they arise, otherwise, don’t be surprised if some of your employees start leaving your organization. We are now in a “candidate-driven” marketplace which means that companies are struggling to attract candidates and retain them. Retaining your current employees is your best bet to avoid having to re-enter the hiring process with picky candidates.
Stay vigilant, address problems quickly and do your best to create a positive environment. In the end, you’ll see your bottom line start to swing even further upward in no time!
For more information on bullying in the workplace and other resources on this topic please go to: https://workplacebullying.org/
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