6 Ways to Bully-Proof Your Workplace

Ideas for creating a working environment free of bullying

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When most people think about bullying, visions of altercations on school buses and in school hallways usually come to mind. But bullying is no longer limited to the early teen years. It also occurs in the workforce every day. In fact, workplace bullying is becoming a growing problem that is affecting the health of employees and the bottom lines of the companies they work for.

For instance, workplace bullying lowers productivity, causes absenteeism and affects morale.

Rather than focusing on their job, bullied employees often become anxious about the bullying. What’s more, bullying can lead to health issues like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and even suicide. For this reason, companies need to take a proactive approach to prevent bullying. Here are six ways employers can prevent workplace bullying.

Watch out for office gossip. If the rumor mill is running or there is a lot of gossip and backstabbing, these are usually good indicators that bullying is taking place. The best way to handle gossip and ostracizing behavior is to be sure employees know that the company views this behavior as unacceptable. It also helps to put an end to it as soon as it is observed by stepping in and saying something.

Provide bullying education to employees and managers. Be sure supervisors and managers know how to recognize the signs of bullying.

They also should know how to conduct an investigation so that employees feel comfortable enough to discuss the situation. Meanwhile, employees should undergo sensitivity training. Many times, people do not realize what is appropriate and what is not appropriate in the workplace.

Implement an anti-bullying policy.

Spell out what bullying is as well as the consequences for bullying another person. Additionally, be clear on what steps employees should take if they experience bullying. It also might be helpful to indicate what employees should do if they witness bullying. Use corporate documents such as employee handbooks, work instructions and employee evaluations to communicate the importance of mutual respect. Hold regular meetings and trainings to gauge the climate in the office.

Implement an anonymous third-party reporting system. Sometimes people do not step forward and report bullying because they are worried their job will be affected. They also usually have concerns that they will become the next target. Create a way for employees to report bullying that they witness. This way, an investigation can be conducted and the situation resolved without dragging the entire office into the situation.

Respond quickly and efficiently to workplace bullying reports. Take complaints seriously and investigate them immediately.

Responding consistently is the key to confronting workplace bullying and creating a more pleasant and productive workplace. Remember, when supervisors and managers do nothing about bullying when they see it or it is reported to them, nothing will be accomplished. Bullies then get away with what they are doing, and bullying will continue to persist. Don’t be afraid to take action. If an employee deserves to be let go because of how they treat others, don’t be afraid to take that step. Doing so will keep other employees from using bullying tactics to get ahead or to intimidate other people.

Keep a record of all bullying complaints. Having notes and reports to review makes it much easier to pinpoint the problem. It also can provide a mechanism for highlighting problem areas and coming up with effective solutions so that bullying is eradicated from the office. Likewise, if there are one or two employees that receive complaints, swift action can be taken.

Remember, bullying in the workplace is not uncommon. As an employer, you have a responsibility to protect your employees and maintain a pleasant working environment. Often the best way of achieving this type of workplace is ensuring that bullying is not tolerated and that it is addressed quickly and efficiently. Strive to create a happy workplace where people enjoy their jobs and your productivity and employee morale will increase.

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