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How to Manage Workplace Bullying

Bullying is abusive, emotionally damaging and disruptive. It has no place in the workplace. Unfortunately, workplace bullying is all too common. It seems that those involved don’t realise that psychological damage is a form of personal injury, therefore those affected can take a case to a personal injury lawyer to take legal action. It’s amazing that’s it’s still so prevalent.

A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 51 percent of organizations reported incidents of workplace bullying. The outcomes are deleterious to any high-functioning organization. The top reported outcomes were decreased morale (68 percent of respondents), increased depression and/or stress (48 percent) and decreased trust among co-workers (45 percent).

For organizations, how to manage workplace bullying can be a challenging, complex issue. However, fixing these issues is essential for the well-being of employees. Having clear procedures for reporting and addressing workplace bullying also reduces the risk of litigation, improves morale, and creates a safe work environment. If you feel that you have been mistreated and have been taken advantage of in the workplace, it may be in your best interests to contact an employment lawyer in your area who will be able to offer you the help and support that you need.

The basics of bullying
SHRM defines workplace bullying as “persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behavior or unfair actions directed at another individual, causing the recipient to feel threatened, abused, humiliated or vulnerable.” Bullying targets can be employees, clients or vendors.

The SHRM study showed the most common types of bullying were verbal abuse (73 percent), malicious gossiping or spreading rumors (62 percent) and threats or intimidation (50 percent).

Despite the prevalence of workplace bullying, 44 percent of surveyed organizations did not have a formal written workplace bullying policy and had no plans to create one. Another 13 percent did not have a policy but were planning to create one. For 40 percent of organizations, the bullying policy was embedded in another policy while only 3 percent had a separate bullying policy.

Leadership skills essential for fighting workplace bullying
The World Health Organization recommends that organizations take the following steps to combat workplace bullying.

    • Awareness. Promotion of awareness and recognition of bullying is essential. Such recognition reduces the amount of resistance to interventions when claims are made. Employees need to be ready for interventions in order for them to become resonant and effective.
    • Environment. Bullying needs to be considered an unacceptable problem in the work environment. In order for risk reduction and prevention to work, bullying needs to be presented in the context of the psychological work environment, creating a healthy work atmosphere, the prevailing organizational structure and leadership practices. Bullying should not be approached as merely an individual personality or temperament issue with a perpetrator, but something incumbent on all employees to monitor.
    • Policy. Anti-bullying policies need to include operable and clear procedures along with codes of conduct. These guidelines need to be taught and stressed in orientation and ongoing training to create a more institutional awareness and comprehension of the need to prevent workplace bullying.
    • Managers. Managerial training must emphasize the responsibility and sound management of a case of bullying. Managers should understand the legal and financial consequences of not addressing and reporting bullying incidents.
    • Consultants. When necessary, external consultants should be used when there’s a need for an impartial or neutral role in a bullying intervention.

The WHO guidelines also recommend that organizations demonstrate a willingness to change approaches to bullying, develop a comprehensive and realistic intervention strategy and support a practice of continuous improvement.

With the consequences so dire to employees and organizations, along with the moral imperative, workplace bullying requires renewed commitment and vigor in order to be reduced or eliminated.