Bullies in the Workplace

Bullying has been defined as pervasive, repeated, health-harming mistreatment of the targets by one or more perpetrators. Many people perceive bullying to be a juvenile problem or an issue that only occurs in schools. In reality, bullying often occurs in the workplace as well and can negatively affect many aspects of a business. Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week is October 16-22 and is intended to inform the community of how frequent workplace bullying occurs.

Bullying prevents employees from completing tasks and also interferes with career growth which can be costly for employers. A recent American Psychological Association study estimated the costs to American businesses resulting from lost productivity, absenteeism, turnover and added medical expenses stemming from bullying-related stress to be $30 billion annually. However, the Workplace Bullying Institute states less than 20 percent of employers will help a bullied target. Only 27 percent of employees report current or past experiences of workplace bullying.

Employers can use the following tips to help combat workplace bullying:

·Establish an anti-bullying policy – Develop a clear policy, which is easily accessible for all employees, describing misconduct and prohibiting such behavior

·Train employees – Train all team members on the importance of the new policy as well as the consequences for breaking policy

·Enforce the policy – Recognize, report and reprimand bullying behavior so that all employees feel safe and comfortable

·Establish a process – Make a plan for team members to report bullying as well as for managers to investigate the report and resolve the issue

Additional anti-bullying measures include having an up-to-date Codes of Conduct and Ethics document and regular performance measurement techniques to ensure the organization is representing company values, following company policy, and allowing staff members to safely disclose concerns.

A positive work environment is essential to a successful, profitable business and employees are representative of the company and all it stands for. Employers must recognize issues, intervene and address both the bully and the target with supported facts. In the end, the employer must be willing to terminate the bully if the harassment cannot be resolved.

Gracen Johnsen is Senior Vice President, Human Resource Strategies at Summit Financial Group. For more information, visit www.YourSummit.com.