How to Prevent Workplace Bullying


By EmployDiversity

When bullying occurs in the workplace it can be humiliating, intimidating, and demeaning to the person being bullied. Employees of minority groups, including women, make for easy targets.

Bullying is typically seen as behavior or verbal comments that result in a person being hurt or isolated. Bullying is also usually a repetitive behavior where the bully is attempting to assert power through the use of aggression. If bullying is allowed to continue unchecked, it can create an unsafe and toxic workplace.

Although bullying is considered a form of aggression, it can be either overt or subtle. Some examples of bullying in the workplace include:

  • Spreading harmful gossip or rumours

  • Excluding or isolating someone from workgroups or social situations

  • Undermining someone’s work or authority

  • Changing a person’s role or establishing impossible requirements that the individual cannot meet

  • Violating an individual’s privacy through spying or stalking

  • Persistent or constant criticism

  • Tampering with a person’s personal or work items

This is only a few examples of the types of behavior that could constitute bullying. If you are unsure of whether particular actions or statements are a form of bullying, use the “reasonable person” test and ask yourself if a reasonable person would consider the actions or statements unacceptable.

The best way to prevent workplace bullying is by creating a positive and inclusive culture where bullying behavior is not accepted. To do this effectively, everyone in the workplace must contribute to addressing bullying behavior when it does occur. To educate employees and managers about bullying, many workplaces have required training that is a part of employee on boarding.

Some additional tips to prevent workplace bullying include:

  1. Create a well-defined policy. A strong policy helps employees and managers understand what constitutes bullying and what their responsibilities are. The policy should also define how an employee can report bullying if they experience or observe it at work.  As with all workplace policies, it’s important to regularly review your workplace bullying policy to ensure it is effective.

  2. Open Communication. It’s important to take regular opportunities to remind employees about bullying and what constitutes acceptable workplace behavior. Talking about a workplace culture of inclusiveness and trying to create an open dialogue can help encourage employees to ask questions and be open with their concerns about bullying or destructive behavior in the workplace.

  3. Look out for bullying behavior. Training employees and managers to watch for indicators of bullying can help identify the behavior early on. Employees and managers should also be aware that bullying can be more prevalent in certain groups. Particular attention should be paid to temporary employees, new employees, and employees of minority groups, as they are more likely to be bullied.

  4. Address bullying quickly. If bullying does occur, it should be dealt with immediately. Ensure that your bullying policy clearly lays out the process and timeline for complaints and that it is followed without delay. Take immediate action to separate the employees involved in the bullying so that further issues do not occur.

Preventing and addressing bullying is essential to the health of an organization. Without strong communication, training, and policies bullying can have many negative effects on an organization including increased turnover, absenteeism, and stress, and decreased levels of engagement and productivity.

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