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According to a recent survey, 23% of employees have experienced bullying in the workplace.
These experiences can seriously impact a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health, leading to feelings of isolation and low self-esteem.
Between the 14th-18th of November, the UK acknowledges Anti-Bullying Week 2022. This annual event is organised by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) and works to raise awareness of bullying and highlight ways of preventing it.
This year, the theme is Reach Out – which aims to empower people to do something positive to counter the harm and hurt that bullying causes. In this article, we discuss the negative impact of bullying and provide some tips for preventing bullying in the workplace.
Spotting the signs of bullying in the workplace can be difficult. Both the bully and victim may be good at hiding their respective roles, or in some cases, they might not even realise they’re playing these roles. The bully might excuse their actions as a joke or workplace “banter”, whilst the victim might convince themselves that they’re being overly sensitive. Workplace bullying can appear at work in a variety of ways, including physical or emotional abuse. Bullying behaviour can include:
As an employer, it’s important that when these problems occur, they are addressed as soon as possible. This type of behaviour should not be tolerated. Your employees should be able to turn up to work in a constructive environment that enables them to work to the best of their ability.
High employee turnover: A survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that for 25% of respondents, the best solution to stop being bullied was to quit their jobs. By addressing these issues, you could prevent the loss of key team members.
Decreased productivity: A victim of bullying will likely feel less motivated and encouraged to excel in their role. On the outside, they may be uninterested or disengaged with their work. However, on the inside, they will be battling with anxiety and fear.
Increased absenteeism: A bullied employee may go to great lengths to avoid a high-stress situation at work, including calling in sick. These absences may impact other team members and subsequently reduce productivity.
Workplace bullying can severely impact the performance of an organisation. Mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £33-42 billion per annum. While in Ireland, reports suggest that mental health issues cost the economy €8.2 billion per annum.
While a challenge, detecting and eliminating bullying in the workplace can be an effective way to boost morale, improve your workplace culture and create a positive effect on productivity in your organisation. Here, we have listed some tips to combat bullying at work:
Training & Education: In 72% of cases, bullying is carried out by a manager or superior. To be more proactive, you can offer educational opportunities (such as workshops) for managers, supervisors, and other authority figures on the best way to approach bullying in the workplace.
Open door policy: Your employees must be able to approach their managers with any issue they face. This type of policy can help fix problems amongst employees and address issues because they become any worse.
Consistency: You must regularly check in with your employees. When engaging with employees, you must actively listen to what they share. These check-ins should offer a safe space where employees can share their struggles, managers can listen with empathy, and problems are resolved.
Cultivate positivity: Sometimes, people don’t get on. It’s true for the workplace as it is everywhere else. Try team building, placing like-minded people together on projects – and above all, listen to anything your employees say.
Create a zero-tolerance environment: It’s essential that your employees feel comfortable and secure while at work. They shouldn’t come to work and deal with bullying, harassment or discrimination. As an employer, you must create an environment where employees are encouraged to come forward with any problems they face. And as a result, your organisation should make the necessary changes to prevent these problems.
Addressing and preventing bullying in the workplace is not an easy fix. Culture, especially shared culture in a small space like a workplace, is hard to navigate. But once you get to the root causes of bullying in your workplace, you can begin to implement the necessary change to support your people.
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