Updated: Feb 3
Bullying. The first few things that come to mind are some kids from school or the playground who rough others around. Sadly though, bullying is not a behaviour that’s only native to kids and can be carried forward as adults. At times, it may be deliberate and on other days it’s simply due to the lack of self-awareness. In fact, there’s a possibility that someone may not usually be a bully but has hurt their team members unintentionally. It is possible that some incidents are isolated cases, but are better nipped in the bud than be given room to expand with the help of the internal communication team.
Bullying Happens More Often Than You Think
Now there may be times when someone may be perceived as a workplace bully due to certain behavioural traits, if not for a mix of all. According to a 2019 Monster.com survey, nearly 90% participants who were adults, confirmed to have been bullied at work. The report also listed ‘how’ these adults were bullied, given that workplace bullying has many avatars - sometimes it’s blatant, while sometimes it could be lurking behind the computer screen in an aggressively written email.
There are bullies who don’t think twice before being aggressive with their co-workers - yelling in private and in front of other team members, drafting rude emails, or even with a condescending body language. Then there are those bullies who resort to constant criticism whether with a preset notion that their co-worker is an idiot, by not giving them due credit, or with humiliation wrapped in a blanket of good-natured humour. That’s not all. Some bullies are manipulators who set their co-workers up for failure by withholding information, resources and then giving a poor performance review. And the most difficult of the lot - to identify as well as deal with - are the bullies who are two-faced. They will be nice to the face and then do the exact opposite behind their coworkers’ backs.
It Should Not Be Normalised
Bullying is a common occurrence, but can be labelled as workplace harassment. Such actions and behaviours should not be normalised, and that’s where organisations need to step in. In most cases, people who are bullies are also the ones who, work-wise, are adding to the growth of the organisation. While they are being rewarded for their contribution to the organisation, this pushes them further towards bullying. Even though bullies bring value to the table, what organisations may not see others who would have contributed but couldn’t because of being intimidated or harassed. With regular internal communication on company policies, such instances can be reduced. Sure, not entirely avoided, but the offender is better aware of the implications of their actions.
How Can Organisations Ensure No Bullying At The Workplace
Like most other things, this too is possible through setting an example and warranting consistent and correct internal communication. First and foremost, the HR team needs to take cognizance of the matter but be the watchdog as well. Keep an eye out for such behaviours. Encourage victims to speak up while assuring them of anonymity, and instill sensitivity amongst the employees. Organise training sessions for the senior management so that bullying isn’t something that trickles down from the top. Although bullying hasn’t been listed illegal given its inconclusive nature, organisations can set up anti-bullying or zero tolerance policies to ensure a healthy workplace culture. HR must include policies on workplace bullying as a part of their internal communication best practices. Next, the department needs to ensure that they are being enforced and followed. This will also encourage other employees to be whistle-blowers and call out any bullying they encounter.
After all, workplace bullying doesn’t only affect employees. It also affects organisational overall performance due to the unsafe, uncomfortable and negative environment that it creates.