A recent survey by the firm Career Builder LLC found that more employees are feeling bullied than in the past.
More than one-third of the workers who took part in the survey reported being bullied at work, an increase of eight percent from one year ago. About 4,000 workers took part in the survey.
About one-half of those responding reported cases of bullying involving bosses and co-workers. One-third of those responding also reported bullying involving customers and superiors in the company.
The bullying took different forms. Most common was being blamed for a mistake the person said he or she did not commit. Other types of bullying behavior include being ignored, constantly criticized, and being held to different standards than co-workers.
Half of those who experienced some type of bullying responded with a face-to-face meeting with the aggressor. In about half of these cases, they were able to resolve the issue.
About one-third of those who responded said they reported the incidents to their company’s human resources department. But, in more than half of those cases, there was no follow-up by human resources.
Bullying can have far-reaching effects in the workplace, according to consultant and employment law attorney Stephen Paskoff, leading to lower morale and productivity, less teamwork, and can even affect safety. Moreover, it has the potential to result in claims and lawsuits. Studies done in the healthcare industry showed that bullying has resulted in procedures that were done incorrectly, complications and prescription mistakes.
To combat this problem, Paskoff recommends companies give more than just lip service to the word “respect.” Many companies profess it as an important value. If it is, then it needs to be emphasized throughout the company, especially by the leadership.
Managers need to talk about the issue plainly, and do it on a routine basis. They should be clear about what constitutes bullying and how it should be handled. Interrupting, name calling, tone of voice, and even body language can all contribute to bullying. Managers need to make clear that it will not be tolerated.
If these messages are expressed often, it will go a long way toward preventing bullying and the deleterious effects it can have in the workplace.
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