How To Stop Workplace Bullying

How To Stop Workplace Bullying

Typically several people from different backgrounds come together to make up a workplace. Therefore, it’s not so out of place to see people with different behaviors, character traits, and life views in a workplace. Because of the various types of people that make up a workplace, bullying may occur at some point or the other. But one of your responsibilities as an employer is to make sure there is no place for bullying in your organization. Luckily, you can learn how to stop workplace bullying from this article.

Here, some practical steps that can help you prevent and stop workplace bullying in your organization will be discussed.

What Is Workplace Bullying – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

For you to effectively put a stop to this problem in your organization, you need to be able to identify it.

So, what is workplace bullying?

A simple definition of this problem is unreasonable behavior that is constantly directed at someone or a group of people in a workplace.

Bullying should be handled immediately before it causes an irreversible effect on the victim.

The big question now is what then qualifies as bullying?

What Qualifies as Workplace Bullying?

What comes to your mind when the word bullying is mentioned?

Do you imagine school-style bullying? 

Do you see a person stomping around and yelling all manner of insults at their victim?

Well, bullying can look like that, but it can also be more subtle.

The bully may subtly insult and disregard his victim all the while having a smile on their face.

Workplace bullying can take on different forms.

And several behaviors can qualify as workplace bullying.

While some are easily recognizable, others are not so easy to recognize.

So, how do you recognize workplace bullying?

A list of what workplace bullying can look like has been made below to make it easier for you to recognize workplace bullying.

Easy to Recognize Bullying Behaviors – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

  • Teasing
  • Threats
  • Uncooperativeness
  • Rudeness (insults, sarcastic comments, and so on)
  • Spreading fake news about a person
  • Sabotaging the victim’s work
  • Laying false complaints

Subtle Bullying Behaviors – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

You may have a harder time recognizing the following bullying behaviors:

  • Excluding the victim from social activities, meetings, and projects that other employees or team members are part of. Cliques
  • Ignoring or dismissing the victim
  • Not using common courtesy such as “thank you” and “please” for the victim

Types of Bullies in the Workplace – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

To further help you identify workplace bullying, you also need to know the different kinds of bullies that a workplace may have.

Passive-Aggressive Bullies

Passive-aggressive bullies are the type of bullies that exhibit subtle bullying behaviors.

They attack their victims so subtly that the victim may be left wondering whether they are being bullied or they are just overanalyzing the situation.

Passive-aggressive bullies would smile when actively making their victims feel threatened.

 They can change schedules just to inconvenience their victim while acting all innocent.

Half the time, they act like they are not doing anything wrong but they know exactly what they are doing.

Blatant Bullies

Blatant bullies are the kind of bullies your mind will paint when you try to imagine a bully.

They stomp around yelling insults and making their victims quake in fear.

Most times blatant bullies are bossy employers that go on a power trip by bullying their employees.

This does not mean that only employers can be blatant bullies.

Anyone can fit this description.

This type of bully likes to be in control.

And they would talk down to those that stand between them and what they want.

They would do and say anything to prove to people around them that they are important.

Unaware Bullies – How to Stop Bullying

People that fall under this category often do not set out to bully anybody.

They just operate very directly.

But this behavior can also be misinterpreted as bullying.

Unaware bullies are often action-oriented.

They want to see results and are assertive about it.

And most times, they often do not realize that they are being bullies.

They just want to get the job done.

So they might speak aggressively to people if that is what it will take for them to achieve their goal.

But even though they are unaware of their behaviors, they should not be overlooked.

Just like every other type of bully, unaware bullies should also receive consequences for their actions.

Dangers of Workplace Bullying – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying poses a threat to both the victim(s) and the company.

Below are some of the most common dangers of workplace bullying.

Significantly Affects the Victim

Nobody wants to be a victim of bullying.

Bullying is an unpleasant experience that may affect the victim in several ways.

For starters, bullying can significantly affect the self-esteem of the victim.

The human mind is very impressionable.

If someone keeps bullying someone else by telling them negative things about themselves, soon, this person will start believing the things their bully tells them.

Apart from making them feel less of themselves, bullying can affect the mind of its victims.

It can lead to several mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

A person being bullied will often feel emotionally tired of the condition they find themselves in.

If nothing is done to stop the bullying, they may start feeling hopeless and helpless.

These feelings can soon turn into depression.

They may also feel anxiety whenever they are at work.

When their bully is around, they may experience a bout of anxiety.

Their heart may skip a bit or they can even have a panic attack.

All of these can have a serious impact on the victim’s physical health.

Read this article to learn how to prevent depression and anxiety at work.

The Workplace Becomes Toxic – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Bullying often results in a toxic workspace.

The atmosphere in the workspace would lack joy, peace, and tranquility if the bullying goes unchecked.

When someone bullies people and nothing is done about it, others may start to copy this behavior too.

Soon, the bad behavior will spread throughout the workplace and the whole place would become toxic.

This is why it’s important to stop bullying on its track once it is noticed.

Employee Turnover – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Employees often choose to stay in an organization because they are content and happy at work.

But if you let bullying go unchecked in your company, your employees will leave.

You will have a difficult time retaining even your most diligent and skilled staff if you do not protect them from bullying.

Bullying Gives a Company a Bad Public Image

When employees start leaving an organization because of workplace bullying, what do you think would happen?

Yes, you guessed right, the news would spread like wildfire.

Soon, nobody would want to work in your organization anymore.

Not only will you be unable to retain employees, but you also won’t attract talented and skilled employees.

Reduces Productivity

When an employee is experiencing bullying at work, their productivity will also be affected.

They will go through mental and emotional turmoil that will make it difficult for them to concentrate at work and get things done.

Aside from this, the person would be incapable of collaborating with their bully.

And if they happen to work closely like being members of the same team or department, this lack of collaboration will reduce their efficiency and productivity.

Your Duty as An Employer – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is a lot more common than most people think it is.

At least, 30% of Americans have been victims of workplace bullying.

Therefore, as an employer, it is your duty to identify and stop bullying in your workplace.

The 2004 Occupational Health and Safety Act charges all employers to provide and then maintain a safe environment that does not pose any risks to the health of their employees.

And as you have seen in this article, bullying poses an actual risk to the mental and even physical health of its victims.

It is not just a moral duty but also your legal responsibility.

It is a responsibility that you have to take seriously to prevent certain issues that can affect your business.

You have to put structures in place to prevent and stop the occurrence of this unwanted situation in your company.

­­­How to Stop Workplace Bullying – 8 Practical Methods

Workplace bullying is not something to overlook or sweep under the carpet.

This is why you need to have measures in place to prevent it from happening in your organization.

And if it happens despite your efforts, you need to do everything possible to stop it before it becomes unmanageable.

1. Create an Anti-Bullying Workplace Culture

Workplace culture can be what encourages or discourages bullying.

This is because culture is what influences the behaviors and standards in any work environment.

Therefore, you need to create a culture that will discourage bullying in your organization.

Yes, everyone has a hand in the development of workplace culture.

But as an employer, your influence is much greater.

You get to set the standards that everyone else in the workplace follows.

The following are some of the strategies you can use to discourage bullying in your organization.

Modeling Behavior

You should practice what you teach.

If you don’t want your employees to bully themselves, then you should also restrain from bullying them.

Ensure that you and every other management member model the behavior you want to see in your employees.

Have Effective Leaders

Your organization should be led by effective people.

Managers and team leaders should be committed to spotting, preventing, and responding to all forms of bullying in the workplace.

They should clearly communicate the organization’s policies about bullying.

Set Standards and Values – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Set standards and values that will promote respectful behaviors in the workplace.

These standards and values should be clear and specific.

They should state allowed and unwanted behaviors.

Also, they should not be bendable and nobody should be above them. 

If anyone breaches them, they should get the full consequences, regardless of their positions in the organization.

2. Have A Working Bullying Policy – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Aside from having an anti-bullying workplace culture, you also need to have a policy to address this issue.

This policy will serve as the go-to whenever there’s a bullying issue.

Having a policy means there’ll be a specific approach to address bullying cases. 

The workplace policy will serve as a guide that tells people how they are expected to behave at work.

You should not just have the policy.

You should also make sure you promote it.

Ensure everyone knows about it and can always refer to it.

Do this by placing it on notice boards or bringing it up during meetings.

3. Encourage Your Employees to Report Bullying

You may not be able to do anything about workplace bullying if the victims don’t report the case.

But sometimes, victims do not speak out about their experiences.

The major reason behind this is that they do not believe in the organization’s policy about the issue.

If similar cases had been ignored in the past, your employees may not see the need in reporting their cases too. 

This is why you need to put a policy in place and also encourage your employees to report any form of bullying.

Make them believe in the policy by taking the necessary actions when a case arises.

Also, make sure the preventive measures are working.

Be ever ready to listen and support employees that report cases.

Another way you can encourage your employee to report these cases is to be confidential.

If an employee reports a case, be confidential about it. 

4. Prove the Organization is Committed to the Fight Against Workplace Bullying

It should not just stop at making a policy.

Show employees that the organization is truly committed to the fight against workplace bullying. 

You can do this in several ways. 

For instance, ensure that you promptly attend to every reported case.

There should be consequences for bullying. 

While the necessary support and encouragement should be provided for victims.

Also, practice transparency.

Make a report after finalizing a case.

The report should be accessible to the employees and even other external parties.

It should state the procedures used to handle the case. 

This method will help you achieve two major things. 

Firstly, it will encourage other employees to speak up about their experiences. 

Secondly, other bullies will know to discontinue their bullying behavior so that they end up facing the consequences.

5. Have Anti-Bullying Trainings – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Train new employees. 

Teach them about the organization’s policies regarding bullying. 

This should include relevant procedures and the workplace code of conduct.

Similarly, hold regular anti-bullying training for your employees.

This training should cover topics like expected behaviors, how to identify bullying, what to do when they experience or witness bullying, how reports of bullying will be handled, and so on.

Also, train managers and team leaders so that they can properly identify and handle bullying cases. 

Their training should teach them how to manage the situation, provide feedback, effectively communicate with the victim, and so on.

6. Act Fast – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Make sure you attend to bullying cases immediately. 

There should be no delay in starting the process needed to address the issue.

Your best bet at stopping bullying is to nip it in the bud.

Waiting until the whole situation has died down before digging it back up to address it is the worst approach you can take.

Ensure you address and stop bullying before it develops into something less manageable.

Remember, bullying is a threat to both the victim and the organization. 

So, always address and stop it as soon as possible. 

7. Do Not Make Excuses – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Remember, your duty is to protect and ensure the safety of your employees.

You should not dismiss any report because you think the person is reading too much meaning to the situation.

Do not make excuses for the offending party. 

Remind yourself that it isn’t about you but the person reporting.

If an action did not affect them to a point, they won’t have bothered bringing it up to you.

8. Dig Deep to The Root of the Case – How to Stop Workplace Bullying

It won’t do to just investigate a bullying case from the surface.

When investigating a bullying case, take your time to dig deep.

Ensure you uncover the root of the case.

The root of the case, in this case, refers to the reason why the bully is exhibiting these behaviors.

This does not mean you should make excuses for them.

It means you should try to see why they are acting that way.

Sometimes, the bully may just be unaware.

They may not be aware of the fact that they are bullying others.

In this case , you can caution them and tell them to avoid doing things to make others feel uncomfortable.

In other cases, the bully may have some insecurities and issues that make them behave the way they do.

The bully may be battling with low self-esteem and they are projecting their internal shame on others.

They may be using their bullying behavior to hide the way they feel inside.

Digging deep into the case can help the bully overcome their insecurities so that they can also learn to have a good relationship with other employees.

Conclusion on How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying can affect both the victim and the organization.

This is why you as a business owner have the duty of stopping workplace bullying.

Luckily, you can do this by using the various methods discussed in this article.

Always be on the lookout so that you can stop bullying before it has the chance to grow.