Bullying can happen in any environment, and bullying in the workplace is no exception. Nearly one-quarter of employees have reported being the target of bullying behavior at work, which translates to 30 million people. It is not unreasonable to think that one or more of your employees may face this negative behavior.
What Is Workplace Bullying?
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, the definition of a bully is “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons as targets by one or more perpetrators.” Bullies use the following tactics against their victims:
- Verbal abuse.
- Offensive conduct and behaviors—verbal and nonverbal—that includes threatening, intimidating, and humiliating the target, or it may involve sabotage against the person to prevent them from completing their work.
Five Signs of Workplace Bullying
Bullying at work rarely subsides on its own, and worse, it may escalate. Further, the targets of workplace bullying are often hesitant to report the issue because the bully is sometimes a boss, or they worry that there is nothing you can do since it isn’t illegal.
Even if bullying isn’t against the law, it’s likely against your company culture and policies. You must be aware of the signs of workplace bullying to maintain a cooperative and positive workplace culture.
Here are the top signs of workplace bullying.
1. Isolation, Exclusion, and Neglect
Isolation and exclusion can occur in professional situations, such as not inviting the targeted employee to important meetings or conversations that feature a focus on making crucial organizational decisions. This behavior is sometimes more subtle, with the bully excluding the victim from work-related social outings like luncheons or happy hours. Finally, this may also be expressed with the bully ignoring the target, avoiding them, and not speaking to them.
The bully may subtly or overtly threaten their victim by casting a menacing glance or stare or writing fear-inducing emails or text messages. As things escalate, they may slam doors or throw things in the presence of the bullying victim but out of view of fellow employees.
Bullies often want to cast their target in a negative light in front of employers and fellow employees. One strategy they use is to make up stories about the targeted person to make others think poorly of them. They have no problem concealing the truth if it helps them advance or drags down their perceived opponent, or the targeted person, to get their way.
4. Intrusion and Tampering
A bully may trespass on the targeted person’s belongings to either take something or plant something to make the person look bad in front of the employer and other employees. Sometimes the bully merely tries to find out information, so they snoop and lurk around their desk to stalk and spy.
5. Undermining Work
The bully may deliberately delay and block progress on an employee’s work project or assignment, which may interfere with their success and advancement within the organization.
There are many signs of bullying that include coercion, rationalization, minimalization, shame and guilt, diversion, and aggression. The more aware you and your management team are, the more quickly you can spot bullying behavior and the impact it has on its targets.
How to Stop/Deal with Workplace Bullying
Not everyone comes to work in good faith to work cooperatively and ethically for the good of your business. Some people want their own way and will do whatever their poor moral compass guides them to do. For those outliers, you need to make sure to protect your employees from this disrespectful, unfair, and abusive treatment in the workplace.
Here are a few steps you can take:
- Draft a policy stating your organization’s position against bullying to protect all employees in the workplace.
- Create a code of conduct that encourages respectful behavior and does not tolerate bullying.
- Invest in workplace digital signage featuring signs of bullying that employees in every department can see.
- Train managers to monitor the behavior of employees and to address bullying situations when they detect them, or when an employee reports bullying against them.
Widespread Information Can Help You Combat Workplace Bullying
As part of the leadership team for your organization, you must take bullying seriously and do what you can to stop it for the health and happiness of your employees and your business.
Check-in with us to learn more about how you can schedule a demo of our digital signs to keep your management team and employees aware of this issue.
(An example of anti-bullying content that Marlin supplies to its workplace digital signage customers. Contact Marlin for content examples that make the most sense for your industry.)