This is “Freedom from Workplace Bullying Week,” and the statistics are startling:
“In a prevalence study of U.S. workers, 41.4% of respondents reported experiencing psychological aggression at work in the past year representing 47 million U.S. workers (Schat, Frone &Kelloway, 2006). The research found that 13%, or nearly 15 million workers, reported experiencing psychological aggression on a weekly basis.”
Some studies show figures that nearly 50% of all American workers have been affected by Workplace Bullying, either as a target or as a witness to the bullying of a co-worker!
So, what exactly constitutes “Office Bullying”?
At its most basic, Workplace Bullying is the on-going mistreatment of one or more co-workers by one or more office bully. The key word here is “on-going”. It is not an isolated incident, but is aimed at repeatedly causing harm to the intended victim.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, founded by Dr. Gary & Dr. Ruth Namie, it consists of any one or more of the following behaviors:
- Verbal abuse
- Offensive conduct/behaviors (verbal and non-verbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
- Work interference or sabotage that prevents the intended victim from completing their work duties
No matter in which form it occurs, Office Bullying creates an unsafe and unproductive workplace. It takes away from the environment most business owners are trying to create – an environment where each employee is encouraged and rewarded. While it may be hard for many of us to believe “adults” bully, they do.
We have all heard much discussion and emphasis on the very real and important need to stop bullying in our schools. Workplace Bullying, however, has not been given the same priority.
I believe one of the main reasons for this is that, in many cases, we do not acknowledge Office Bullying even occurs. Or maybe we believe adults should be able to “take care” of the problem themselves. The reality is, Office Bullying does occur and any time we allow ourselves to put blame or responsibility solely on a “victim”, we all lose.
I challenge all of us to believe We Can Make a Difference. More importantly, I Challenge Us All to Take Action.
Here is what We Can Do!
If You Are the Victim of Office Bullying:
- Admit that you ARE being bullied
- Believe it is NOT your fault
- Document the dates and times of the bullying
- Keep any incriminating texts, emails, memos, etc. against the bully
- REPORT the bullying
If You Are a Witness to Office Bullying:
- Speak Up
- Provide a United Front on the Side of the Victim
- Offer to Be a Witness for the Victim
If You Are a Manager or Employer:
- Make Your Office a Zero Tolerance, Bully Free Zone and Use Background Checks as part of Your Hiring Process
- Draft and Implement a Strong Policy for Dealing with Complaints
- Hold Meetings to Familiarize Employees with Your Policy and Create Awareness
- Encourage the Reporting of any Bullying
- Establish a Safe Contact for Reporting Incidents of Bullying
- Investigate all Complaints Promptly and Thoroughly
- Enact Any Changes Necessary to STOP the Bullying
We all need to take responsibility and refuse to tolerate bullying. No one has the right to intimidate, belittle, or physically harm another. We can all present a united front and stop bullying in its tracks by Putting the Bullies on Notice!
Remember, just because we are now adults, it does not mean that bullying no longer occurs. Let’s set an example for our kids and SPEAK UP! We will all be better for it!