What Constitutes Bullying in the Workplace, And How to Prevent It

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‘Bullying in India has reached epic proportions.’

This statement may seem like an exaggeration until you are aware of this statistic:

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55 percent of employees face bullying at workplace - Survey by a popular job portal

This survey further highlights that the most common form of bullying in the workplace is employees being falsely accused or criticized of a mistake that they didn’t commit (33 percent). The next important factor leading to productivity dip in employees being bullied is the feeling of being ignored or unacknowledged (32 percent).

Bullying impacts workers of all backgrounds, irrespective of their level of authority within an organization. Still in most cases, employees refrain from reporting such incidences to the HR department. They are either scared of being termed as thick skinned or they don’t want to tattle on their peers and bosses. Other reasons for employees not reporting about bullying incidences are the fear of getting bad performance reviews and delayed appraisals. Further, there are many of those who don’t actually know if they are being bullied.

What is Defined as Bullying at Work?

The act of bullying is not only perpetrated by someone in a position of authority; even subordinates and peers are known to engage in bullying. The actions of a bully are often shaped by his/her intentions of belittling someone with persistent hostile behaviour. You can easily spot such incidences at workplace that categorize as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting, for instance:

  • Facing unnecessary criticism
  • Feeling socially alienated
  • Your decisions being questioned every time
  • Delayed promotion
  • Unreasonable work expectations
  • Threats about job security
  • Overbearing supervision
  • Verbal spats
  • Publicly embarrassed at work

So, How You Can Deal with Bullying Smartly?

As soon as you get a sign that you are being bullied in your workplace, you need to speak up. For instance, if your boss belittles your work publicly, destroying your confidence, you need to talk with him/her about it. If your problems are not dealt with informally through conversation, you always have a chance to skip your immediate boss and report the case of bullying to the HR department through the centralized platform of HR management software.

Furthermore, employers need to be actively involved in weeding out incidences of bullying from the workplace. Bullying has a negative impact in the workplace. It not only victimizes bully targets, but also diminishes profit margins. Victims of bullying often face trouble in decision making and fail to concentrate on tasks at hand. When employees lack self-esteem because of frequent incidences of bullying, their productivity is likely to diminish.

According to NCBI Report, bullying in the workplace affects approximately 11 percent of workers.

So, it’s high time that employers take serious steps towards weeding out bully incidences from the workplace.

How Can Employers Prevent Bullying at Workplace?

  1. Frame a Distinct Workplace Anti-Bullying Policy

The best practice against bullying at work is creating a distinct policy against it. The anti-bullying policy can act as an important guide for employees to know what constitutes bullying. If any behaviour or management action constitutes bullying according to the policy, employees can assert their case with conviction. At the same time, employers can refer to the policy while addressing the concerns of employees, and decide who has followed the compliant procedure mentioned in the anti-bullying policy.

  1. Implement a System for Managing Bullying at Workplace

Employees often go against their judgement and do not report about bullying to the HR department, fearing that they may be tagged as an office snitch. Even policies against workplace bullying don’t give them enough confidence to speak their mind. Fortunately, HR management software like Cilfi  HRM enables bully targets to raise concerns and provide feedback anonymously. This trusted HR software from Focus Infosoft also promotes smooth communication within an organization, ensuring that issues related to bullying can be resolved at the initial stage without reaching the escalation level.

  1. Promote a Positive Work Culture

To reduce the risks of future bullying, it’s important that you take practical steps now. Along with specifying what types of behaviours are permitted within an organization, HR professionals and corporate leaders also need to provide clear guidelines for reporting bully incidences and prohibiting retaliations against alleged targets. Further, employers need to encourage communication across silos. When employees can discuss their views on bullying openly, they will no longer have to suffer in silence.

Bottom Line for Employers

Remember to address workplace bullying proactively by creating a positive and productive work culture. Taking measured disciplinary actions and monitoring workplace behaviour are important to thwart workplace bullying.

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