Is bullying happening in your workplace?
Firstly, before we get into the ins and outs, what do you consider as bullying? Have a think about it for a second or two.
Now you’ve had a think, would your definition of bullying to be the same as another member of your team’s?
It’s quite difficult to put a definition on it because of course, people have varying tolerance levels; specifically to potentially intimidating or offensive behaviour. Also, it’s interesting to think about the point in which someone’s tolerance turns another’s actions from “Oh they’re just messing around” to “No, they’ve gone too far now”.
My point is, any allegation or rumour of bullying in the workplace needs to be taken seriously. Regardless of whether you believe it to be casual playfulness or the dreaded ‘banter’. Bullying comes in many forms, such as face to face, letter, email and phone etc. It may be the case that if you are looking for it you may not see it physically playing out between individuals in the first instance.
It is extremely important to begin diffusing any bullying behaviour instantly when noticed. Bullying itself isn’t against the law, however, when it becomes harassment, it most certainly is.
In a recent study carried out by the University of East Anglia into Nurses in the Healthcare Sector, they revealed through research that being a target of workplace aggression can affect a person’s health but also cause them moral disengagement. This can see the victim behaving badly towards others and engaging in misconduct – or far worse, gross misconduct – in an attempt to satisfy the need to gain back control. In this particular case, they found it was likely to impact on the quality of care provided to patients.
This thought process is carried into many business areas. It may not be patients but customers experiencing this passed on aggression from the victim of the initial bullying.
Food for thought in relation to performance
It’s important to have a robust bullying and harassment policy within a working environment. This will allow you to deal with situations in the right way, through a process. It also ensures your employees have a very clear outline in terms of what your expectations are of them and their behaviour towards others.
Of course, it is not always possible to stop bullying from happening in the first place. The most important thing is knowing what to do about it should it occur.