Bullying can be poisonous to a business’ morale—and its bottom line. Studies estimate that bullying can cost UK employers more than £2 billion a year, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Businesses cannot afford to ignore the effects of bullying, which include abysmal morale and employee relations, loss of respect for managers and supervisors, poor performance, dragging productivity, frequent absences, resignations and a tarnished company reputation.
The difficulty of dealing with bullying lies in its elusive nature—it is easy to spot, but bullies’ motives often
remain unclear and are sometimes personal.
Examples of bullying and harassment include:
• Spreading malicious rumours
• Ridiculing or demeaning someone
• Exclusion or victimisation
• Unfair treatment
• Overbearing supervision
• Unwelcome sexual advances
• Making threats or comments about job security
• Deliberately undermining a competent co-worker
• Preventing individuals from getting promotions or other benefits
Bullying and harassment are not just face-to-face. They can happen over the phone, in email and in other communications. One instance of bullying has the potential to snowball into a much greater problem, which is why it is best to end it immediately.
Start by implementing a formal ‘no-bullying’ policy. Next, encourage everyone, especially management, to set a good example. Ensure that if bullying is discovered, your policy provides fair procedures for dealing with complaints. Broadcast this information—along with a set of standards for appropriate behaviour—to the entire company. Assure employees that any complaints of bullying will be handled sensitively and confidentially.