Bullying is a problem that’s been around the playgrounds since the dawn of time. However, it’s only recently that it’s gotten the attention it deserves. It seems that a big part of its due attention is in part because of the internet and its effect on the mental health and wellbeing of the victims.
Ever since the internet was born into existence, cyber-bullies have discovered the ability to bully in unprecedented ways. It’s probably a pretty fair assessment to say that bullying tactics are as awful as ever.
To make matters worse, some of the bullyings we’ve seen online have now crept over into the workplace, making for a highly explosive situation. With bullying rightfully in the spotlight, wouldn’t you like to know how to stop it?
Today, we’re sharing tips on how to build a company policy to do just that. First, let’s look at some key facts concerning this growing problem of a hostile work environment.
Workplace Bullying: By the Numbers
Bullying in the workplace is when an employee suffers poor treatment from another employee they work with. It can take any form, from physical threats to teasing or being excluded. If the actions of other people threaten your health or safety at work, it is bullying.
Although bullies are easy to spot in school, workplace bullies can be a bit tougher to detect. The modern workplace bully uses more sophisticated strategies. Indeed, deception is often part of the workplace bully’s M.O.
Still, some are unashamed of their bullying and don’t even try to hide it. To effectively stop bullying in the workplace, you need to identify the variations of bullying by your coworkers.
Some of them are difficult to spot. Others are plain as day. Let’s have a look.
Studies reveal that 71% of people in the workforce say they’ve been victims of accusations or mistreatment that weren’t true. These bullying tactics include things like lying about peers‘ abilities to move ahead (more on this later).
Bullies often try to minimize the victim’s contributions to the company so that they won’t take part in sharing ideas. 64% of the workforce say they’ve been targeted in meetings for sharing their thoughts.
For example, the bully said something similar to, “Oh, that’s stupid.”
Glaring and staring are some workplace bullies’ go-to for non-verbal intimidation. This tactic is so prevalent that 68% of the workforce claim to be or have been victims of non-verbal intimidation.
The Silent Treatment
The silent treatment is a tactic you’d think would have stayed in kindergarten.
Unfortunately, many adults have yet to grow beyond such childish behavior. How prevalent are silent treatments in the workplace?
All too common, it appears; a staggering 64% of victims said bullies used silence to try to distance them from the team.
Spreading Destructive Rumors
This is one of those bullying tactics that can ruin careers and lives. Many bullies spread harmful rumors or gossip to damage the reputation of the victim. This is also known as work sabotage.
So much so that 56% of the workforce claim to have encountered a bully who started or didn’t stop talking badly about another person.
Other Forms of Bullying
- Abusive behavior
- Gender & Sexual harassment
- Verbal abuse
Workplace Bullying: Additional Facts and Statistics
A 2014 Workplace Bullying Institute survey revealed that 65.6 million workers claim to have been affected by workplace bullying. What’s more, 61% stated that their employer or supervisor failed to respond to the abuse when reported.
Of course, if the victim gets fired due to quits or gets forced to leave, the bullying stops. Moreover, 29% of bullying victims reported that they had considered suicide. This is a serious problem.
Experts say there is no one way to end or prevent bullying. The best strategies usually fall into the following categories:
- Fundamental changes to the business and workplace culture
- Strategies to empower management over subordinates
- Support for targets of bullies
- Real discipline for bullying
- Accountability measures
Your HR department can then strategize on the best way to handle bullying behavior while guiding you to available resources such as your company’s employee handbook.
Types of Bullies in the Workplace
Bullies are one of the worst toxic employees because their harm causes reduced productivity, employee turnover, and low morale. Do you recognize any of these actions by your employees?
It may be hard to believe, but in some workplaces, screaming insults are still active. Although the typical yelling is a boss managed by fear, the blatant bully can be anyone in the workplace.
You will hear these types of bullies make derogatory remarks or talk about someone in meetings. They want their way, and they want you to know that they are in control. Not only that, but they also want you to know how important they are, and it doesn’t matter who they have to stand on to express their views.
This person will smile and say a casual compliment with the intent to tear you down. The passive-aggressive bully makes you wonder if you have been praised or attacked.
This bully might tell you one thing and tell another worker something completely different. Often, they will act in subtle ways, such as changing the workflow or meeting agenda with little warning to make someone fail or look bad.
This bully intentionally does things to anyone they perceive to be on their way to get to the top. Those who are victims of this bully’s tactics are a threat in the bully’s eyes.
Moreover, these bullies are often insecure about themselves, so they need to resort to underhanded sabotage to work their way up. Such activity can include making you look bad, lying about you to upper management, sabotaging your work, and so on.
Whatever the case may be, there’s no end to what stunts this bully might try to pull to get their way.
Putting a Stop to Workplace Bullying
Now that we’ve had a better look into bullying and its entails, it’s time to talk about how you can stop it in your workplace.
Identify Your Company’s Policy on Bullying
Check if your job has a bullying or harassment policy. You might have already obtained a copy of this policy during your training or probationary period. But depending on how long you’ve been with your company, finding your copy could prove challenging.
As per employee rights laws, these policies should be posted somewhere in your workplace for all to see. It will let you know who to talk to, what process you should follow, and what will happen to the person who bullies you.
Keep a Record
It may be difficult to remember precisely when and why you felt bullied. However, these details are critical if you want to report bullying. Keep personal records to help you remember details and show that you are victim of bullying more than once.
Try to record the following:
- The person or persons doing the bullying
- Exactly what they are saying or doing
- How bullying makes you feel
- Where it happened
- Any witnesses
- Date and time
A log of bullying activity will serve you well in putting a stop to it.
Ask the Bully to Stop
This is understandably a big step to take. You first have to accuse the co-worker of bullying and then ask them to stop.
But if you’re comfortable with it, try to talk to the person who is doing the bullying and explain that it is offensive and unfair to you. If you feel that it is not safe to talk to this person because of retaliation, you can ask other people to join you in the meeting, such as a trusted colleague.
Keep in mind that it is not your responsibility to ensure that everyone feels safe and happy at your work. Your best course of action might be to let management handle the perpetrators.
If a manager is responsible for the bullying, you’ll need to go over their head and directly to HR. Present your notes as you detail your encounters with bullying.
Contact the EEOC
Unfortunately, even going to Human Resources doesn’t guarantee success in stopping bullying. In these instances, you’ll want to fill out and submit an anti–bullying form with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
This will prompt an investigation that could lead to severe consequences for the party doing the bullying. As such, it’s not something that any employee — hourly, management, or otherwise — wants to deal with.
The Bottom Line
With 53 field offices serving every part of the country, the EEOC is on your side to ensure a safe, fair, and bully-free workplace. It’s a serious matter if you have no other recourse but to involve the EEOC, but it’ll make certain that the bullying stops one way or another.
Did you find our guide on bullying helpful? Be sure to explore our blog collection for even more support for running a small business.
Workplace Bullying Institute | 2014 Survey
Harassment | US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission