Bullying Isn’t Just a Schoolyard Problem

Schoolyard bullying has no place in a work environment. A Forbes survey found that 75 percent of employees had been affected in some way by workplace bullying, whether as a victim or as a witness. Workplace bullying can have a number of adverse effects, and it is important that employers do everything they can to create a positive environment

The impact of workplace bullying

Perhaps the most obvious of impacts of workplace bullying is on the victim’s mental and physical health. An employee being bullied - whether it is physical or verbal - is likely to experience mental anguish and increased stress. This is also likely to increase absenteeism and decrease the quality of their performance. Depending on how severe the bullying is, the target may need to take a leave of absence, further reducing productivity, or even leaving the company. It is estimated that workplace bullying costs more than $200 billion annually, and studies have shown that workers suffering from bullying perform 50 percent more poorly on cognitive tests.

Bullying is a toxic behavior that under no circumstances should be encouraged or tolerated. Even workers who aren’t being directly bullied could find themselves bogged down by the negativity, further decreasing the quality of work and the level of satisfaction in the company.

And, if bullying persists, Employment Practices Liability (EPLI) suits could follow if employees claim harassment or discrimination. 

Top 4 methods to prevent workplace bullying

Even if your company already has anti-harassment measures, they may not be sufficient to protect employees from bullying. While anti-harassment procedures can provide a base for disciplinary standards, it is recommended that you take more specific measures to counter bullying.

  1. Keep your eyes open. Understand the signs of workplace bullying, and train all employees  to recognize when bullying might be taking place.
  2. Make sure your employees are comfortable coming to you. Some employees may be reluctant to report workplace bullying (whether or not they are the victim) because they fear retaliation. Maintain an open door policy, and allow for anonymous reporting.
  3. Don’t promote it. If you or other members of management find that bullying is occurring in your company, act swiftly to ensure that appropriate parties are disciplined and that all employees are aware of your anti-bullying policy.
  4. Create a company structure that does not encourage bullying. Oftentimes, workplace bullying is performance-based - if one or several employees feel that another is receiving more positive attention or rewards than they are, they may start to target the other employee. Ensure that performance measurement systems are completely unbiased, and consider rewarding ideas and collaboration rather than just results.

    Even a small instance of company bullying can lead to drastic consequences. Contact your HUB broker today to learn more about how you can better protect your employees and your company from becoming overrun by a toxic environment.