Bullying does take place in many workplaces.
Bullying gets a lot of attention in schools ands colleges – and there are strategies to deal with it and the consequences of it.
This rarely happens in the workplace. Most firms don’t know whether bullying happens in their organisation – and, where it might, they usually chose to ignore it, assuming it will sort itself out.
The problem, and the difference between bullying in schools, is that in workplaces it is often those in authority that are the perpetrators – intimidating, offending or humiliating those that report to them.
The result can be short term performance loss, but, if not checked, it can result in longer-term mental health issues. Often, the only recourse for the victim is to leave their job.
All of this can have a major impact on productivity and be very expensive.
The culture of the organisation can be changed – with far-reaching effect.
Companies need to find ways of making themselves aware of incidents or patterns of bullying. One clear way is a form of ’whistleblowing’ reporting system which guarantees anonymity for the whistleblowers – at least in the initial stages.
The company then needs to make sure the bullying is addressed – without causing further harm to the victim. The victim must be supported and the bully must be punished but, more importantly, have his/her behaviour changed.
There is clearly a role for training and development but there is also a need to clarify values and management policies and practices which are deemed acceptable.
The result can be an improvement in organisational culture, in staff well-being and morale – and in productivity.
Any costs should easily pay for themselves.
Changing culture and management practice can be costly – but nowhere near as costly as a poor culture and a bullied workforce!