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5 Tips to Preventing Workplace Bullying

May 14, 2019 Published in Workers' Compensation

Bullies in the workplace can make the work environment feel hostile or unsafe. Bullies can make it difficult or ultimately impossible for your employees to perform their job duties. When bullying reaches the level of harassment, workers may suffer undue stress and mental anguish on top of being unable to do their jobs. As an employer, it is your legal responsibility to prevent workplace bullying. If a bully does appear in the workplace, you must do something to intervene and resolve the issue right away.

Create an Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy

Addressing bullying and harassment behaviors right from the beginning can put everyone on the same page at work. Create an anti-bullying policy and include it in your employee handbook. The policy should define bullying, list examples, and give clear steps as to what employees should do if they encounter a bully at work. Establishing clear-cut procedures for how to deal with a bully can help workers feel cared about and heard.

  • A statement of your commitment to preventing bullying and harassment in the workplace. A clear statement saying the company will not tolerate these unlawful behaviors.
  • Examples of bullying behaviors. These may include intimidation, disrespect, embarrassment or humiliation, physical aggression, verbal assault, isolation, and retaliation.
  • The steps the company takes to prevent and resolve bullying. This should list the responsibilities each supervisor has, as well as steps to take if employees notice bullying.

Your anti-bullying policy should outline the company’s investigation procedures, disciplinary actions for bullying, and how you will enforce your anti-bullying policy. Give every employee a copy of your policy, and post one visibly in a shared space, such as a break room.

Work on Company Culture

Workplace bullying often happens when one or more employees feel threatened or intimidated by another employee. The bully may feel that the victim is receiving more praise or promotions than the bully is getting. Rather than working harder, a bully may resort to harassment tactics to sabotage the victim’s performance or success. Creating a company culture of fairness, equal opportunity, inclusivity, and positivity can help you prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace. Make sure that your performance assessments and professional opportunities are equally available and unbiased. Focus on collaboration, not just profitability.

Act Preemptively to Prevent Bullying

Do not wait for bullying to become a problem to establish a list of rules. Do so upfront to show that you are aware of the possibility of bullying and already have a plan in place if it occurs. Include information about bullying and harassment in the workplace in the initial job contract or employee handbook, so everyone starts off with the same set of information. From the beginning, call bullying what it is. Do not use euphemisms or fail to address the topic directly. Be honest and straightforward about your no-bullying policy.

Provide Easy Access to Support

Preventing bullying is a group effort. Make sure your employees feel comfortable reporting bullying behaviors at work. Provide easy access to a method for reporting bullying. Make it anonymous if the victim wishes. Let your employees know that you are always open to hearing complaints about bullying, and that everyone will be heard. Have counselors available if an employee needs to talk to someone. Encouraging employees to come forward without fear of retaliation can help you spot a bullying problem before it gets out of hand.

Offer Anti-Bullying Training

Train your higher ups to know how to spot and prevent bullying. Provide training to supervisors and employees, so everyone knows the rules and how to enforce them. Your supervisors and managers should know how to investigate complaints, identify bullying, and discipline offenders. Employees should know their rights and how to report bullying behaviors. Training employees to follow your company’s anti-bullying procedures can keep your workplace functioning smoothly.