In an era that focuses on collaboration and open workspaces, workplace bullying has increasingly be on the rise. When trying to understand bullying that takes place at work, it is important first to be able to define workplace bullying. It is defined by OSACH (Ontario Safety Association for Community & Healthcare) as repeated, persistent, continuous behavior as opposed to a single negative act. All individuals within an organization should understand the difference between normal work conflict and tenacious management, and the continuous act of a bully. Additionally, bullying does not just include physical aggression, which is what someone typically thinks of when they hear the word. Bullying also includes mental abuse, verbal onslaught, rumours, withholding information, over monitoring someone’s work, and more.
The question is: Why does bullying persist in the workplace?
There are usually multiple reasons why bullying is occurring, some reasons could be:
- Perceived power imbalance
- No or little risk of disciplinary actions
- Changes in the workplace
- Dissatisfaction with work environment
There is growing evidence that those employees that are exposed to negative acts at work have lower job satisfaction and higher stress levels, both of which lead to lower productivity and negative impacts on the organization. So what can employers and management do to combat bullying taking place in their organization? The first plan of action should always be to implement violence and harassment policies if you haven’t already done so. If you have, it may be worthwhile to revitalize your program and make sure everything is up–to–date. Training everyone within the organization on these polices will allow for employees to have a clear understanding of what bullying is, and know the disciplinary procedures for those who do not comply. It is also important to give workers a way to report any occurrences, and to make sure that all occurrences are well documented. Any inappropriate behaviors should also be dealt with promptly, and by properly trained supervisors, managers or HR personnel.