When you think about bullying, you’re most likely going to associate it with school children, but that’s certainly not the limit. Even adults can be targets of bullying in the workplace and many employers now recognise this, putting in place anti-bullying policies like the ones you may find in schools.
What employers can do
Employers need to take a stand against bullying and they need to do so boldly. As an employer, consider taking these steps to counter bullying in the workplace.
1. Deal with it immediately
It’s important to deal with bullying in the workplace as soon as you notice something is amiss because it can drive even the brightest and most self-sufficient of your staff to helplessness and unhappiness, which is bound to affect productivity. Encourage employees to confront bullying at work, whether they’re the target or someone else is.
2. Implement a zero tolerance policy
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a formal one or not, but be sure to have a zero tolerance policy for bullying in place. It should be a policy that every worker is familiar with and consequences of unacceptable behaviour must be spelled out clearly and executed when necessary. While you do your best to prevent bullying, you might want to get professional indemnity insurance in case a problem arises with a troublesome employee.
3. Stop rumours as soon as possible
In order to stop rumours in their tracks, you need to be tapped into the office grapevine. Leaving unfair and negative rumours to keep flying around won’t do your organisation any good. The bullying process relies heavily on starting and sustaining negative rumours about the target, so cripple that and it should be easier to solve the problem. Another advantage of stopping rumours on time is you can encourage others to intervene. Typically, bystanders don’t bother to help because the rumour makes it seem like the target is the problem.
What employees can do
Employees too have to play their own part in order to ensure that bullying does not thrive in the workplace. They can:
4. Take a stand
Bullies want their targets to react, so the best way to make them fail is to ground yourself and avoid showing that you’re upset or hurt. It’s going to take a lot of patience, but it’s important to remain calm and keep your emotions in check. What you can do is to document what’s happening including details like what was said, the circumstances and if anyone else was there.
5. Turn the tables where possible
Doing your best to keep calm doesn’t mean you should keep quiet and take it all. Sometimes, it works to call the bully’s bluff. If the bully accuses you of always making the wrong move with clients, ask them what they would do differently. If they are quick to respond with another smear, ask them to be more specific about the actions they would have taken if they’d been in your shoes.