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Employee Bullies: Spotting and Stopping Harassment

A 2007 Study by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 37% of employees had been bullied at some point in their career. This results in low morale, healthcare costs, and higher turnover. Is your office home to a bully? Here are four signs to watch for:

  1. Mistakes are personal. Bullies will find fault with their target, often for unwarranted or fabricated reasons. Criticisms come loaded with value judgements about the employee as a person, not objective discussions of performance.

  2. Exclusions are intentional. If an employee is being consistently left out of gatherings or conversations, they may be the target of bullying.

  3. Gossip is pointed. All offices have some chatter, but if the rumors are malicious and pointed at someone, it may be a sign of harassment.

  4. Voices are raised. Shouting has no place in the office. More obvious than the other indicators, this is an obvious indicator that things have progressed beyond appropriate levels.

If you’ve identified bullying, what can you do? It’s important to have a no-tolerance policy for bullying. Here are some tips to keep your workplace-culture healthy:

  1. Be approachable. Employees are often hesitant to come forward and report bullying. No one likes to be a tattletale. Keep a healthy relationship with your employees and make a regular practice of inviting feedback.

  2. Be proactive with positive. Encourage a climate of noticing the good that employees do, not just the bad. Express specific, personal appreciation when employees perform well.

  3. Lead by example. You will set the tone for your subordinates. Make sure that coercive and critical habits have no foothold in your own actions.

Have you ever experienced bullying at work? Share your experiences with us @hyattfennell.