About 30% of American in-person employees report being bullied on the job, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. And for remote employees, that number goes up to 43%. These statistics are no laughing matter and a sure sign that workplace bullying occurs in many different companies and across all industries.
Not only can this bullying cause psychological harm to those being targeted, but it also leads to lower productivity and higher turnover, thus hurting the company’s bottom line.
So, how can you identify and manage this delicate matter? Let’s explore the options.
What is Bullying in the Workplace?
Bullying in the workplace is exactly as it sounds. When a coworker, or group of them, gang up on another employee. They might talk about that person behind their back, single their work out for extra scrutiny or even take all of the credit for the work they’ve completed, especially in front of management.
Speaking of management, people in power can be responsible for workplace bullying as well. Intimidating employees, speaking harshly to them, threatening them and even forcing them to take on work they don’t want, are all forms of bullying.
How to Identify Workplace Bullying
In order to avoid or put a stop to workplace bullying, you first need to understand the types of bullying, as well as keep an eye out for the various signs.
Types of Bullying
There are multiple kinds of bullying in the workplace. Most of them fit into five distinct categories. There are verbal and intimidating bullying, the former of which is prominent – words that are used to put others down. The latter consists of threats and other things designed to make people feel like they don’t belong.
In addition, there’s institutional bullying, where the entire workplace has a culture that permits it and retaliatory bullying, in which the victims end up getting blamed or called out for pointing out the bullies. Finally, work performance bullying may take place. This is where someone takes credit for someone else’s projects.
Early Signs of Bullying
There are many signs of bullying to look out for such as a group of your colleagues getting quiet when you enter the room. Others include leaving you out of the overall office culture, pulling mean pranks, criticizing you relentlessly, giving you meaningless tasks to complete and more.
How To Manage If You’re Being Bullied At Work
Getting bullied at work is no laughing matter. If you think that you’re a victim of workplace bullying, it’s important to know how to deal with your colleagues’ behavior.
Speaking up is harder than it sounds, especially if you’re subject to ridicule and feel as though you’ve been beaten down by your colleagues. Find someone in the workplace that you trust and tell them about what’s been going on.
Document the Activity
Do everything you can in order to document what’s been happening to you. Write down every instance of bullying, record comments and other things that were said to you and keep track of who tends to be the ringleader. Also, make sure to keep copies of written documents, like things that have been assigned to you, in order to prove the bullying behavior.
Confront the Bully
Sometimes confronting the bully works. Ask them straight out what you did wrong or why they don’t like you. They might apologize and you could possibly reach a point where the bullying stops. However, this doesn’t always work and, in some cases, it might make the bullying worse.
Review Work Policies
Your workplace should have some policies in place in order to prevent bullying or at least stop it once the behavior has started. Spend some time going through the company manual in order to understand those policies and whether or not you have various options for reporting the behavior.
Report The Bully
A company’s human resources department is the first place to go once you’ve documented the bullying. They should be able to help you work toward a solution, whether that means removing the bully or speaking to additional management.
When to Seek External Help
In some cases, you’ll need to get outside help for workplace bullying. Look for organizations and groups that provide plenty of support.
Workplace bullying can be catastrophic and emotionally traumatizing for the person who is the target of the bad behavior. If you find yourself being bullied, it’s time to speak up, document everything and go to your company’s human resources department. From there, follow their advice and push them to take action so others do not become victims of the same cruel behavior in the workplace.