Why We Need Workplace Policies To Protect Employees From Bullying

Why We Need Workplace Policies To Protect Employees From Bullying

By Charly Stringer

You might think that bullying ends in the school playground. Sadly, that’s not always the case. 

Bullying isn’t uncommon in many workplaces, and not only is this upsetting for employees, but it can also have a negative impact on business. Let’s find out more.

What constitutes bullying?

First, let’s look at what bullying actually is and go through some examples.

Bullying is when someone uses power or intimidation to hurt or threaten another person or make them feel uncomfortable with words or actions. Often this behaviour is intentional, but sometimes it’s not.

Bullying takes many forms and could be shown as threats, blackmail, inappropriate conduct or spreading rumours.

Another form of bullying is harassment based on discrimination. For example, someone might use a person’s race, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or religion to bully them. In many countries this is illegal.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a very common issue as well. This is when someone focuses on a person’s gender or sexual orientation to make inappropriate comments. Conduct like this makes the person feel uncomfortable or harassed.

Examples of sexual harassment include: sharing inappropriate videos, pictures, or messages, making inappropriate gestures or comments, and unwanted touching.

What are the effects of workplace bullying?

Bullying can have many negative consequences for an employee on the receiving end. It can cause depression, low self-esteem, headaches, and anxiety.

As an employer or colleague, it’s important to protect people and make them feel heard and understood.

Why is it beneficial to the employer to protect employees from bullying?

Not only is it essential to employees to eliminate bullying in the workplace, but it’s also beneficial to the employer.

Here are some examples of how:

The employee that is being bullied might not show up for work, meaning they will have to be covered, or the company could lose money if the work doesn’t get done.

A worker that doesn’t feel comfortable, respected, or safe at work won’t stick around for long, meaning staff turnover will be frequent.

The reputation of the company might suffer; no one wants to work for or support a business that’s known for letting bullying slide.

How can an employer prevent workplace bullying?

Employers are responsible for preventing bullying in their workplace. They are liable for any harassment that their employees suffer.

Firstly, they should learn what to look out for. If you know the signs and catch them early, you can nip it in the bud before it escalates. Here are some examples of things to spot:

 

  • Gossiping
  • Name-calling
  • Shaming publicly
  • Ignoring or excluding
  • Asking too much of someone (setting them up to fail)
  • Inappropriate language or conduct
  • Unfair treatment
  • Denying training or promotion opportunities
  • Bullying takes many forms and could be shown as threats, blackmail, inappropriate conduct or spreading rumours.

Here is what employers can do to avoid workplace bullying:

Make sure there are policies in place to protect employees from bullying.

Have a statement from senior management endorsing the anti-bullying message.

Ensure employees can approach a manager, union representative, or human resources department if they are being bullied.

Make available contacts for emotional support if it is needed.

Have a zero-tolerance policy. Organise diversity, anti-bullying, and sexual harassment workshops.

Check-in on staff regularly.

Bullying is unacceptable at work (or anywhere else). It can have detrimental effects on a person’s mental and even physical health. It can also be bad for business. As an employer, it’s essential to protect employees with workplace policies against bullying.

“Never look down on anyone unless you’re helping them up” – Jesse Jackson.

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