August 7th, 2014

Orlando Business Journal: 5 Ways to Prevent Workplace Bullying


By Jeff Mandel – Orlando Business Journal – August 7, 2014

A staggering 27 percent of U.S. workers report experiencing abusive conduct at work; 21 percent report witnessing such conduct. And bullying is four times more common than harassment in the workplace, with 65.6 million people reporting to have been affected.

Bullying in the workplace is defined as actions by an individual or group that are unreasonable, physical or psychological, repeated, and cause an intentional impact on the target, such as humiliation, degradation, offense, intimidation or cause dangerous results to the target, such as risk to safety and/or mental or physical health issues. In short, bullying is considered a form of violence.

And the impacts of workplace bullying have a ripple effect. Not only does workplace bullying impact the target of the bullying, but it leaves a lasting impression on others in the workplace as well. Workplace bullying often results in high turnover, low productivity, lost innovations, difficulty hiring quality employees and even customer retention.

Here are five tips for employers wanting to be proactive in the fight against workplace bullying:

  • Develop and enact workplace bullying and violence policies that define workplace violence and bullying behavior. Get out in front of the issue. Put policies into writing that every employee can review and ask questions about.
  • Provide a well-defined reporting procedure. And create an environment that fosters openness and empathy so employees who report being harassed or bullied feel supported and comfortable enough to report any violations.
  • Clearly communicate the impacts of policy violation. Similar to making the policies readily available and clear, so too must employers help make every employee aware of the ramifications of bullying or harassment in the workplace.
  • Consider a workplace training program for supervisors and employees to address employee problems/complaints. Workplace bullying can be a confusing and nebulous topic. Make it real for supervisors and employees by instituting training programs that include case studies, examples and a clear picture of the impacts of violation.
  • The proof is in the pudding. Ensure adequate follow up, evaluate employees and enforce policies and procedures. An effective workplace bullying policy will have little impact if there is no follow through. Employers must be willing to make hard decisions and stick to their policies and procedures when confronted with workplace bullying situations.

During the past decade, 26 states — including Florida — have introduced variations of workplace anti-bullying bills, and while no laws have been enacted yet, there are plenty of legal ramifications already in place for employers who do not take workplace bullying seriously, including tort law, discrimination law and Occupational Safety & Health Administration law and regulations.

* WBI Note: The author made complete sense until the final paragraph. His mistake is claiming that bullied targets have many current legal options. That is plain wrong. What is needed is the Healthy Workplace Bill.

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