Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention

How Employers Can Prevent Workplace Bullying

As a leader, it’s one of your responsibilities to prevent workplace bullying and harassment from occurring. Click to learn what you need to know.

An astonishing 75 percent of American workers have been the victim of workplace bullying. Clearly, bullying doesn’t end in high school and it’s up to employers to stop it.

Managers and business owners have the ethical and moral responsibility to prevent workplace bullying as much as possible. Below are some strategies for keeping all of your employers safe.

Why You Need to Prevent Workplace Bullying

Anyone can become a victim of bullying in the workplace. Many of these people work hard, are good at their jobs, and polite. This type of person is the ideal target for a toxic employee.

If you do not get rid of these bullies, you could face high turnover rates and lose some of your best talents. This turnover can seriously affect your bottom line.

Aside from the monetary motivations, you also have moral and ethical obligations to your employees. When a person is a target at work, they may feel unsafe in your business.

As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone is safe while on the job. This responsibility includes mental and emotional safety.

Recognize Bullying

Before you can prevent workplace bullying, you need to have a solid understanding of what it looks like. While it can sometimes be obvious, bullying can take on subtle forms as well.

In the workplace, the bully is typically someone higher than their victim in the hierarchy.

Sometimes the involved parties are on the same level, however.

When the bully is the victim’s direct supervisor, they may assign unreasonable work or set impossible standards. They may also purposefully keep a person from essential meetings and social events, which can prevent the victim from progressing in their career.

When the bully is not the supervisor, the bullying can take the form of rumors, teasing, and other offensive behavior. Some bullies may receive credit for another person’s hard work, which can be difficult to detect.

Unfortunately, bullying can form into full-on harassment. In some cases, the bully may sexually harass their victim. It’s important to remember that this harassment is about power, not desire.

Call It Out

Whenever bullying does occur, it’s vital to call it by its name. These behaviors aren’t “strict management styles,” or “differences in tone.” It is bullying.

While this may seem like a small distinction to some, it’s essential to those who have become targets. When they see someone in charge call it bullying, they can feel empowered to report the behavior.

Have a Set of Bullying Policies

Perhaps one of the most important steps to prevent workplace bullying is to have a clear set of policies around the issue. These should be written down, and every employee should receive training on the issue.

What should go into your business’ bullying and harassment policies? You can customize it for your business, but you should make sure to cover:

  • Why this policy is in place
  • The seriousness of workplace bullying
  • What bullying looks like
  • What the procedure is for reporting bullying
  • The consequences that offenders will face

It’s important to emphasize that you encourage early reporting from victims. Your employees should feel like you’re on their side even if the bully says otherwise.

If you believe someone on your team may be bullying others, make sure to talk to them privately about the policies as well.

Follow Through

Just writing down an official policy on workplace bullying isn’t enough. If and when you do receive a complaint, it’s vital to follow through.

Do not drag your feet on the investigation. Once someone reports, they may hope for results quickly and fear retaliation. Be sure that the victim knows that you are working hard to resolve their issue.

If your investigation finds that someone in your organization is bullying people at work, you must follow through on your stated consequences as well. If you don’t, other employees may choose to suffer in silence rather than go through the reporting process for nothing.

Enforcing your bullying policy not only stops that particular person, but it can also show the rest of the team that you mean what you say when it comes to this important issue. Would-be bullies may think twice before excluding and hurting others.

Build a Great Environment

While it’s essential to help targets of bullying, it’s better to prevent it altogether. Creating a healthy and productive work environment can help you achieve this goal.

Think about the type of company culture you want to foster and hire people who will set that tone. This is especially important when you hire managers. Hire people who:

  • Are dedicated to your business
  • Can enforce rules when necessary
  • Understand the importance of company culture
  • Have a great work ethic

Part of building a great environment is training people who are already on your team. Make sure to put managers through comprehensive harassment and bullying training regularly.

Other great strategies include hosting team building exercises, encouraging the open exchange of ideas, and creating zero-tolerance policies.

Get the Right Tools

If you are a small business owner or you have a lot on your plate, managing all of these tasks may seem overwhelming. However, your obligation to prevent workplace bullying is still important. That’s why implementing the right tools is vital.

One such tool is the Dealing with Allegations Mastery Programme. This product offers a course that can teach you everything you need to know about dealing with harassment and bullying in the workplace.

You may also consider Human Resources products, bullying policy templates, and more.

Stick With It

If you have a toxic work environment now or a few bad apples, you shouldn’t expect your company culture to change overnight. It will take some time and a lot of effort to completely shift.

However, these steps may be well worth your investment.

With 75 percent of the workforce experiencing bullying at their job right now, you can bet that someone within your organization is suffering. With the right policies, firm enforcement, and great company culture, you can stand out as a business that does the right thing.