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Eradicating bullying and harassment in the workplace

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Matt Darvill Work, Work Life, Tips...

This week (11th – 15th November) is national Anti-Bullying Week. Whilst often associated with school life, bullying is extremely common in the workplace too, with 1 in 4 employees reportedly being affected by it during the last year. The human element, coupled with the financial incentive, means there are plenty of reasons why a company should look at every means of eradicating bullying and harassment in their workplace. This week’s blog goes through some of the ways a company can fight bullying throughout their organisation.

Understand what it looks like

Bullying is defined as ‘repeated behaviour which is intended to hurt someone either emotionally or physically’. It can take many forms, including verbal humiliation, persistent criticism, isolation and exclusion from social activities. There are some more obvious signs such as the physical and verbal abuse. Equally as important are the forms that are less immediately obvious, such as attempts to restrict a person’s progression and the like.

Culture

Have the expectations related to behaviour in the workplace clearly defined in your company handbook. Ensure that what is permitted and prohibited is outlined, as well as guidance on how people who do complain should be treated to avoid retaliation and repercussions for their actions. Part of culture is the need to investigate claims promptly and without delay; promoting the fact that claims will get resolved quickly.

Training

Train managers on how to create a working environment where bullying is not tolerated. The training should also encompass how to spot it, and how to tackle it. According to research, the majority of bullies are found to be bosses or supervisors; with 72% of respondents believing that their manager rationalises or somewhat encourages this behaviour.

Measure

It’s important to reflect and review on whether the process is being carried out correctly. Anonymous staff surveys are a really useful tool in the fight against bullying in the workplace. Alternate the questions on the topic to ensure you get a rounded view on whether your employees believe there is a problem; or if the current processes are working.

Financial Incentive

As well as the human element, there is also a strong financial incentive for working towards eradicating bullying in the workplace. With bullying-related absenteeism costing each UK business £554 per employee per year, totalling at a £13.75bn in lost turnover and productivity across the country.

Has your company has utilised any initiatives to combat bullying in the past? Let us know how successful they were in the comments below.