How to Prevent Workplace Bullying from Happening
Are you aware that 85% of the world's population has low self-esteem? That means a lot of people are susceptible to the negative impact of bullying. And while it's easy to assume that bullying ends after childhood, bullying in the workplace is a real problem for adults.
You can help be part of a positive change, however. Keep reading to learn how to prevent workplace bullying from happening.
Create Clear Workplace Behavioral Expectations
The effects of workplace bullying can color someone's impression of your organization. Consequently, it's vital to set the standards for workplace behavior from the moment someone starts working there. Earmark time in onboarding to go over the rules of interaction.
Talk about ways to diffuse heated conversations during employee training. Offer sample language employees can use to interact with people at all levels. And set the standard by ensuring that all upper-level employees demonstrate civility.
In other words, education needs to be a key piece of your onboarding strategy. Use online training or seminars to show that you take bullying seriously. And explain how respectful interaction ties in with your company's mission statement.
Also, articulate the repercussions of not following the established protocol. For instance, an employee who bullies may be suspended without pay or removed from a project. They may need to undergo additional training or face termination.
Identify Different Types of Bullying
Bullying can be blatant, but it can be more subtle. It's critical to map out the types of bullying so you can determine the proper responses. For instance, the act of ignoring a coworker or keeping critical information from them could be a form of bullying.
Further, intentionally neglecting to loop someone into meetings where they need to be present could be bullying. On the other end of the spectrum, humiliating a colleague or spreading rumors about them also are forms of bullying.
Employees need to know that not all jokes will come across as such. And if an employee is a target of a joke or snide comment, then the interaction has transitioned into bullying.
A bully might heap loads of responsibility on a coworker or take credit for their work. Alternatively, a bully could demean another person by removing responsibilities. They also could give them simple tasks beneath their skill level.
Other forms of bullying may be obvious. This could include using aggressive language or creating a hostile environment. Bullying can take the form of physical altercations, as well.
Make Support More Accessible
If an employee witnesses a bullying incident, they need to know how and where to report it. Make sure you've determined the protocol for reporting. And let all employees know that their reporting will remain confidential and won't result in any penalties.
For those who've been bullied, a phoneline or messaging system online could provide a less stressful way to file a complaint. Designate obvious spaces online or in-person where employees can express concerns about bullies.
This also means that managers and organizational leaders need to go through EEOC training. Through this training, managers will be able to understand what constitutes discrimination. Then they can take appropriate action.
Ultimately, providing clear communication channels will reflect well on your organization. And if you're hoping to improve retention, especially of top employees, you need to demonstrate that respect matters.
Respond to Complaints Quickly
If someone files a complaint, what are the next steps? If you don't have a clear roadmap as a company, it's time to create one. Resist the temptation to ignore the problem in favor of other work responsibilities.
Managers need to show they care — and their best move is to respond quickly. If possible, meet with the individual who filed the complaint. Talk with them to clarify the source of the issue.
A manager may need to mediate between two parties to build understanding. Or they may need to take disciplinary action. Doing this will show other employees that you take violations of workplace behavior conduct seriously.
If you've received anonymous complaints, meet with your managerial team. Identify the common issues that come up repeatedly.
Then hold a team or companywide meeting to acknowledge the problems and outline steps toward improvement. This could include holding bullying prevention training or asking managers to be more hands-on.
Build a Better Company Culture
One of the best ways to stop workplace bullying is by starting at the core of the problem. If your workplace doesn't model respectful behavior, your employees won't feel obligated to behave that way. Instead, take steps to establish a healthier and more positive workplace culture.
Create opportunities for employees to gather informally, such as at lunches or retreats. When employees feel a stronger sense of camaraderie, they may be more likely to treat one another with respect.
Administer workplace surveys to gauge the current climate. Ask questions specific to civility and company culture. And gather the most specific feedback to review with leaders — and address through intentional changes.
Offer refresher training, too. Employees who've been on the payroll for decades might not be aware of shifts in communication norms. Provide online or lunchtime training on microaggressions, civil discourse, and other relevant topics.
Put an End to Workplace Bullying
With the right preventative measures and sound responses, you can cut down on workplace bullying. Start by laying out workplace expectations and creating an environment that values civility. Make sure all employees undergo proper training.
And let employees know where they can communicate any personal or observed bullying experiences. When you're ready to build better workplace accountability, contact us and we can help.
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