We’ve learned how to motivate and keep employees happy, but what about the darker side of the spectrum- bullying. In this post, we can learn how to identify when an employee is being bullied and how to handle the workplace bully

Bullying in the workplace isn’t as clean cut as the playground. There’s no taking of lunch money, calling people poopy pants or throwing ‘gang weight’ around.  The bullying umbrella covers any action that an employee feels is unwarranted, unwelcome and causes the employee to feel intimidated and uncomfortable. Any amount of bullying has a detrimental effect and if left unchecked can have disastrous effects personally, as well as on work performance.

What Is Considered To Be Bullying?

Workplace bullying can include humiliation, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, manipulation – and lots more besides. What may seem like playful banter to many, could, in fact, be causing major distress to others.

Identifying Potential Bullies

employee being intimidated

Many bullies have highly effective disguises. Some of the traits, however, can reveal themselves as early as the interview stage. A seemingly confident and competent person in an interview may well be harbouring a single-minded pathway to an autonomous takeover. This type of person most definitely won’t be a team player and could see every other employee as a stepping stone to personal glory.

Within the HR community  it’s worth noting that:

Bullying isn’t automatically illegal. However, behaviours commonly associated with bullying often overlap with other behaviours that are illegal, such as harassment or bias.

Some other personality traits to look out for include:

  • Two faced
  • Constantly criticising
  • Obnoxious and overbearing
  • Flattering to deceive

How To Handle Bullying in the Workplace

The first rule of thumb is – DON’T ignore a complaint about another employee. Employers who ignore any kind of suspected bullying can be in real trouble. It needs to be handled with care and attention and dealt with via the correct channels.

Organisations that fail to deal with bullying correctly could face; negative employee relations, loss of productivity, damage to Organisation reputation (in particular via social media) and legal action with damages.

It’s worth noting that as an employer you have a ‘duty of care’ for all your employees.  If an employee is bullied to the point of resignation they can claim ‘constructive dismissal’ on the grounds of breach of contract.

What Should Be Done About Bullying?

Firstly, put a formal policy in place, and ensure that it’s accessible to everyone. It should contain some of the following:

– A statement of commitment from the management
– Acknowledgment that bullying and harassment are morally and legally unacceptable
– A statement that bullying and harassment may be treated as disciplinary offences
– Highlighting the steps the organisation takes to prevent bullying and harassment
– An outline of grievance procedures and timelines

ALL cases need to be approached with a seriousness and the desire for an all-round acceptable outcome.

Regularly addressing the workforce and building a rapport with employees could go a long way in instilling confidence. By learning to speak to all groups with impact and charisma you can gain trust and open the communication channels between C-suite and workforce.  Without doubt, the most desirable outcome would be to sort out any issues in-house, as quite often people aren’t aware of their bullying manner.

Like an open wound, an untreated bullying issue will only fester, becoming far worse for an organisation.  To avoid any unnecessary legal action or social media backlash it’s important that the management has an open door policy, where they listen and act upon the first signs of bullying.

Sometimes bullying is easily dealt with, but if not it’s good to know that victims have a voice- a loud one!

For more tips and help in speaking with confidence check out my website- davidhyner.com