Workplace bullying and harassment have huge negative impacts on both the organization and the victims involved. It lowers employee morale and hinders their growth. Many times it leads to post-traumatic stress and the victims resort to alcohol and drug abuse, which ultimately affect their families too. As for the organization, many times the victims end up suing it. Those Million dollar lawsuits are pretty common nowadays and companies must be on the lookout in order to survive.
Workplace bullying and harassment can be defined by a number of acts conducted by an individual or a group of people in the workplace, that could harm the physical or mental well being of an employee. A workplace that tolerates bullying and harassment is considered a ‘hostile work environment’ and the employees have a right to seek legal action against the company.
A Manager should always be on the lookout for bullying and harassment in the workplace in order to protect his staff. No employee should ever be put in a position to defend himself against hostility in a place of work.
How to identify workplace bullying and harassment
One may find it difficult to differentiate bullying and harassment from modern candid behavior among the employees. Managers often find themselves lost between acceptable behavior and the one that requires action. Since employees tend to keep these issues to themselves due to their sensitive nature, managers are always left in the dark. In the end, all you can do is look at the signs.
The common signs of bullying and harassment in the workplace:
- Physically harming or threatening to harm someone.
- Undermining a colleague in front of his/her peers.
- Misuse of authority for unofficial tasks.
- Excessive absenteeism.
- High turnover rate.
- Frequent transfer requests.
- Theft or Vandalism in the workplace.
There could be tons of similar signs that could give you a hint that bullying and harassment is taking place in your workplace. It’s your responsibility as a manager to look after your employees and let them know that you are there for them.
How to fight workplace bullying and harassment
The first and foremost step is to prevent bullying and harassment from happening in the first place. Even if your employees get together pretty well, you should do everything you can to keep it that way.
- Organize lunch and learn sessions and similar team activities.
- Encourage getting together outside of office hours.
- Implement YourSafeHub in your organization. It’s a secure and anonymous communication channel for your employees to report and speak about issues that are sensitive in nature.
Even if all your preventive measures have failed, there is still a lot you can do to bullying and harassment in your workplace.
- Communication is the key to making things better. Encourage your employees to sit together and resort these issues with peaceful conversations before things escalate.
- Make sure your door is always open for employees to talk in times of need. You need to make sure that they feel comfortable enough to talk to you about such these matters.
- Ensure your employees that no matter the position of those involved, bullying and harassment is not tolerated in your organization. Make sure to take appropriate action whenever someone is found guilty after thorough investigation.