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How to Overcome Workplace Bullying

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on September 3, 2019 at 3:59 PM

Workplace bullying affects more than the person being bullied. Its adverse effects can ripple throughout the group. Here are some steps you can take to manage and even improve these types of situations.

Workplace Bullying Puts Everyone at Risk

Feeling pushed around and bullied at work can have serious consequences for not just employee morale and performance but safety, too, according to a study published in The Journal of Applied Psychology.

When employees feel bullied, it threatens interpersonal bonds that make them feel like they’re part of a group and more likely to disregard safety rules, precautions, and procedures because they’re no longer thinking of themselves as part of that group.

When some employees fail to carry out safety practices, it leaves everyone at risk, even those who have nothing to do with the incidents, whether as bullies or victims. Those safety violations can lead to incidents of workplace illness or injury that are totally preventable.

Strategies to Reduce Bullying at Work

It can feel like a big challenge to take on the issue of bullying at work. But ignoring it or hoping it will go away can actually allow it to grow and pose even greater threats to workplace health and safety as the situation deteriorates.

Here are some ways to respond:

  • If you’re being bullied at work or you notice a coworker being bullied, then do report it. For any reason, if you cannot report it to your own supervisor, then take the issue to HR. Most companies’ HR departments have policies and procedures in place to investigate bullying incident reports quickly and impartially. 

  • Implement workplace training on bullying prevention. It’s possible that the person doing the bullying doesn’t realize the effect they’re having. Identifying and discussing common bullying tactics in the open with all employees brings the behavior out into the open, making it less likely that the person doing the bullying can stay under the radar, without others (besides the victim) noticing. Others will learn appropriate and effective bystander techniques to help the person being bullied.

  • Ensure that any discussion of job performance sticks to the facts instead of personal attributes. This is especially useful in preparing employee evaluations. It can be useful to ask your company’s human resources department for assistance in preparing performance appraisals that are objective and fact-based.

  • Implement leadership training. Not every manager is a born leader. With appropriate training, supervisors and managers can learn to provide constructive feedback that’s accurate without attacking. There’s a big difference between, “Your productivity is 40% less than your colleagues’” and “You’re the slowest one on the line. You must be a real loser if you can’t keep up with these guys.”

One person being bullied at work can cause problems for the entire team or department, including a raised risk of safety violations or incidents. For this reason, taking steps to cut down on this kind of harassment at work benefits the whole group. Reporting workplace incidents, leadership training, and bullying prevention programs can help.

Further Reading: 4 Tips for Preventing Workplace Violence

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, Incident Management, Human Resources

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