Bullies be Gone: 4 Steps to Detoxifying Your Workplace

bullyYou’re in a room with 10 colleagues, can you guess which four of you are victims of workplace bullying? According to Canadian Institutes of Health Research 40% of workers experience bullying on a weekly basis. Schoolyard behaviors shouldn’t be creating to toxic plume in your workplace. To have a high performing, cohesive, and happy team, you need to implement a bullies be gone game plan.

In an environment of derogatory comments, public humiliation or even physical abuse, you’re guaranteeing that people will be losing their confidence. It’s possible someone could be experiencing debilitating anxiety or panic attacks. Someone who is bullied may end up living with clinical depression and even physical illnesses. No one can afford this. It’s important to recognize the different types of bullying behavior, which can include:

  • Name-calling
  • Belittling and making people feel unimportant
  • Treating people with disrespect
  • Excessive monitoring
  • Constant criticising over trivial or minor issues or mistakes
  • Shaming people
  • Creating unreasonable workloads and expectations
  • Undermining people, and setting up failure.
  • Intentionally withholding information needed for doing the job.
  • Leaving people out of discussions and creating an unwelcoming environment.

As a business leader here are 4 steps for eliminating workplace bullying and detoxify your workplace.

  1. Educate everyone in the workplace about bullying: You need to have all of your employees understand how bullies behave, and what bullying behavior looks like. Everyone has to be aware of the significant risks (liability, litigation, staff turnover, and recruiting difficulties) to both the victims and your workplace. Conduct workshops for both employees and all managers. When everyone understands and recognizes the bullying dynamic, they’ll be well prepared to take the appropriate steps to protect their teams or teammates.
  2. You need a well-defined policy: The entire management team needs to be on board. Bullying is unacceptable workplace behavior, and any contravention of the company policy has to result in serious consequences – including termination. It’s important that your anti-bullying policy clearly states what types of behavior are unacceptable. Your written policy must be effectively communicated to everyone in the workplace. Everyone in the organization needs to understand the significance of this policy.
  3. You need to establish a process that people can and will follow: Reporting incidents of bullying adds to an already stressful situation, and your process should not make it more so. The process has to be confidential. Someone reporting an incident needs to know there will be no reprisals. You need to have a clear procedure for investigating and resolving complaints. Inaction will turn the process into a mockery, and significantly tarnish the credibility of those behind implementing the policy.
  4. Reaction needs to be swift and decisive: Any report of workplace bullying warrants a swift reaction. Delaying or dismissing accusations that may seem trivial, could well be ignoring a larger issue. A failure to react in a timely manner again undermines the entire credibility of your anti-bullying policy. Being decisive and even measuring out a small amount of disciplinary action early in the process can help mitigate potential long term consequences. Your workplace simply can’t be a place where people can get away with behaving badly towards their colleagues or peers. Everyone needs to understand they are accountable for their behavior with others.

There are very serious consequences for allowing workplace bullying to go on unchecked. In 2003, The Kavanagh Decision (Newfoundland Association of Public and Private Employees v. Newfoundland) serves as a cautionary tale we all need to be mindful of. In this case, the province of Newfoundland was sentenced to pay $875,000 in damages to a disabled government worker whose employment was terminated after a campaign of harassment by his co-workers.

“The way to work with a bully is to take the ball and go home. First time, every time. When there’s no ball, there’s no game. Bullies hate that. So they’ll either behave so they can play with you or they’ll go bully someone else.” – Seth Godin

Bimal (2)As VP of Marketing, Bimal Parmar manages the global marketing strategy and execution at Celayix. With over 20 years industry experience, Bimalis responsible for making sure the world learns about the benefits of Celayix’s solutions that include: advanced employee scheduling, time and attendance, employee communication as well as integration modules for payroll and billing. Image courtesy Richie Diesterheft

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