Remember your school days and how there was a typical bully who would terrorise the shy ones on any given occasion? Well, school’s over and bullies have found their way into the workplaces too! That’s right! Bullying is a workplace issue, one that has gory effects on the overall functioning of your business.
Bullying in the workplace is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could mentally hurt or isolate a person in the workplace.
It normally involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behaviour that is intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or a group of people.
It has also been described as the assertion of power through aggression.
Bullying affects the overall health of the organization leading to decreased morale, increased stress and employee turnover, unfavourable corporate image etc.
Let’s look at some of the signs of bullying which may not be so evident but are surely hampering the productivity of employees and ways to curb it!
Signs of Workplace Bullying You Need To Watch Out For!
If you observe these signs at the workplace, you should know you are dealing with bullying!
Workplace bullies are used to getting things done their way and the best means to achieve that is through manipulation.
They often use passive-aggressive behaviours to make others feel insecure or threatened.
You would find them ignoring you, which makes you give in to them because you feel upset. Conversely, they may dish out compliments so that their co-workers will become easily manipulated.
2. Undue Criticism:
A bully will often offer unreasonable or non-constructive criticism. If your manager does not like the quality of work, he or she can always suggest improvements showing how the same problem can be tackled in a smarter manner.
But bullies will straightaway bring down employee morale by giving negative feedback intentionally, fostering feelings of shame or guilt in employees.
Bullies won’t think twice before playing the blame-game with their subordinates or peers.
They can blame others for their own mistakes or use any employee as a scapegoat to hide errors on their part. Taking credit where it is not due is another sign of a workplace bully.
4. Ignoring, Isolating:
There are various ways to mentally harass someone, one of them is to intentionally make them feel isolated from the rest of the team.
You might find yourself being purposely excluded from group meetings, discussion or decisions.
Deliberately ignoring or avoiding someone makes them doubt themselves and question their own actions or behaviour.
This form of abuse could involve the perpetrator discounting or diminishing someone else’s views and concerns.
A bully won’t hesitate to make someone else feel useless or underused. One sign can also be delegating the worst of tasks or responsibilities to the target employee, only to make them feel worse.
6. Unrealistic Expectations:
You are asked to complete impossible tasks, without proper time being given.
When you fail to meet unrealistic expectations, you may be accused of incompetence.
Other unreasonable signs of workplace bullying include being blamed for harmless activities such as being five minutes late to a meeting, or standing the wrong way, or answering the phone incorrectly.
Not All Bosses Are Bullies… ‘Not All Bullies Are Bosses’!
The underlying assumption that a bully is generally a senior or higher-up is false.
A bully can be someone on your team or one of your colleagues for that matter, who have been there for a while and know the pulse of the organisation. Jealousy and the threat of being replaced as the ‘boss’ favourite’ could lead to co-workers becoming bullies!
And that suck-up who trails the boss throughout the day? These employees could pretty much be the poster boys of workplace bullying!
Workplace bullying can make one feel anxious, trigger depression and leave them feeling hopeless about their jobs. Before your employees start dreading showing up to work because of that one bully, it’s time you take matters at hand! Here are a few steps to curb employee bullying at the office!
Ways To Get Rid Of Workplace Bullying For Good!
Here are some ways to rid the workplace of bullying once and for all!
1. Create Bullying Policies:
Having strict policies in place will not only help curb bullying in workplaces but also strengthen employees and not let them feel that no one will listen to them.
Policies should not be for the namesake; strict disciplinary actions should be taken, mentioning specifically the consequences of different forms of bullying.
2. Include Policies In Training Modules:
Send a strong message to all the new joinees by enlightening them about the zero-tolerance bullying policies in place.
Make them a part of your company’s training material. This not only enhances your corporate image outside but also boosts employee confidence in your commitment towards its people.
3. Encourage Employees:
The first and most important help that the victim of workplace bullying needs is encouragement from the company’s management to come forward and report such incidents.
A lot of times people hesitate to even open up about such matters because of fear of their bosses or losing their own jobs. The HR managers should invoke an open door policy so that more and more people voice their concerns without feeling intimidated and bullies are punished accordingly.
4. Help And Support:
Employees spend most of their waking time at workplaces where undergoing physical or mental bullying can be an ordeal for anyone.
Offer help by having a one-on-one conversation or arranging a session with a mental health expert, if the victim seems too depressed and lost. Speak to line managers to reduce their workload till they can come back to work feeling better and stable.
5. Manage Well:
Manage workplace stressors and risks. Role conflicts and uncertainty may cause bullying behaviours due to the stress it places on employees.
Ensure employees understand their roles and have the skills to do their job to minimize the risk of employees’ perceiving difference of opinion or management action as bullying.
Workplace bullying is an epidemic, one that can cost a company millions of money in the form of unhappy workers and a tainted corporate image. Make sure you stop the bullies in their tracks by implementing a zero tolerance ‘bully-free’ workplace!