What to Do About Workplace Bullying

Approximately 35 percent of American workers are victims of workplace bullying, according to a survey conducted by Zogby International and the Workplace Bullying Institute. Another 15 percent witness bullying occurring in their workplace.

Workplace bullying has negative implications for small and large businesses alike. Not only can it damage morale and reduce employee productivity, but it can cause companies to lose some of its best workers.

What is Workplace Bullying?

In a nutshell, workplace bullying involves the intentional mistreatment of an employee by a co-worker or boss. Signs of workplace bullying span the gamut from a boss “yelling” at an employee to a boss belittling an employee to a co-worker stealing credit for another employee’s work. Workplace bullying can include verbal abuse, sabotage, in addition to humiliating, intimidating, or offensive remarks or behavior. In fact, the Workplace Bullying Institute list 25 common tactics used by workplace bullies.

Tips to Curtail Workplace Bullying

Part of the reason why workplace bullying is so prevalent is because employers often times ignore it.  But as a small business manager, it’s your duty to seriously investigate every incident of alleged workplace bullying. Set up a policy on workplace bullying, and enforce this policy. Notify all employees that bullying will not be tolerated. Enlist yourself, supervisors, and employees in workplace bullying training. Lastly, seek legal advice should workplace bullying become violent or move into racial or sexual harassment situations.

Training your employees and supervisors on what workplace bullying is, how to deal with it, and how to prevent it, can go a long way to diminish unwanted bullying behavior. In this way, you’ll simultaneously set the stage for increased workplace morale, higher productivity, and enhanced company reputation.

Protect Your Small Business from Workplace Bullying

Given the sheer number of workplace bullying that occur every year and despite your best efforts to prevent it from happening, how do you protect your small business from workplace bullying detrimental effects?

A good way to protect your business financially from litigation or financial loss from claims is to arm yourself with business insurance. Some insurance companies now include workplace bullying coverage in their employment practices liability coverage policy. Speak with your insurance agent to determine if your covered for workplace bullying, and if not consider adding it.