They say people make a workplace. Coworkers can make or break a job, but when they break it, it’s often down to toxic behavior. Sadly, this problem isn’t uncommon, and it harms not only the company in terms of lower productivity, higher staff turnover, and poor employee morale but also human beings. Victims of workplace bullying can suffer long-term mental (and even physical) repercussions.
Although it’s impossible to prevent workplace bullying entirely, there are ways to reduce its prevalence and fix it if it does occur – and it starts with management. Businesses that are great to work for tend to have established a positive corporate culture of civility, inclusivity, and respect. Plus, they have high employee retention as a result. So, how does management foster a positive environment, stop workplace bullying, and retain employees in the long run?
The initial stance a company should take on workplace bullying is making it clear from the get-go that it’s unacceptable and that there are measures to identify this behavior. Simpplr’s guide on employee retention talks a lot about the importance of staff morale, and one of the biggest problems that can reduce that (and lead to high staff turnover) is bullying in the workplace. So, nip it in the bud by discussing it and defining clear policies on how the company expects employees to behave toward each other.
Those policies should also detail the consequences for those perpetuating workplace bullying; those people need to know there is no place for them in the company. Moreover, it’s not enough to highlight workplace bullying policies – consequences must be enacted every time; otherwise, they bear no weight.
Commit to Diversity
Sometimes, workplace bullying might be the result of unconscious bias. As such, awareness of how unconscious bias influences perceptions and actions can help create a more positive workplace. These biases could be about race, religion, gender, age, and disabilities, among other factors.
Management should demonstrate their commitment to diversity and how people’s internal biases can do harm (and how to challenge those biases for the better). Additionally, offering employee diversity training can help with this initiative.
Encourage Civility & Lead by Example
Behaviors and attitudes are infectious; they spread from employee to employee. While training and transparent policies on what’s expected of employees regarding their behavior are all good, it means nothing if the higher-ups are doing their own thing.
All behaviors within the workplace – the good and the bad – cascade from management and flow into all the nooks and crannies of an organization. So, higher management must lead by example; they should be model employees, embodying civil behavior and positive attitudes. They should never play favorites; they must treat all employees – regardless of position or status – with the utmost respect, be mindful of their communications, be civil at all times, and show support and gratitude toward their team both on a teamwide and individual employee basis.
Regular Management Training
Leadership development is crucial within all companies – how can those in charge take care of their teams and ensure employee morale without knowing how to do so? Of course, some people are born leaders, but for others, leadership is a vital skill that’s learned – and they can improve theirs through management training.
A company must invest in its managers just as much as it does its employees. Managers are not superhumans; they require training, too, just like entry-level employees. A critical component of manager training is learning how to spot, address, and deal with any toxicity in the workplace and any bullying, whether it’s suspected or indeed happening.
Of course, employee training on workplace bullying, how to identify it, and what to do if it occurs (as well as bystander training) is essential. But it can’t be left solely to employees – managers need to do their part. That’s where training on effective leadership practices, how to influence company culture positively, how to set and manage expectations, and conflict resolution all come into play.
At the end of the day, workers can only do so much; it’s down to managers to manage, control, and resolve any instances of bullying through standout leadership. But it’s the company’s (or the CEO’s) job to equip their managers with the skills and tools they need to lead effectively and confidently in a way that positively impacts all employees and the organization.
Stop Bullying Immediately
It’s one thing to prevent bullying from planting its seeds and growing, but it’s another to act upon it if it does appear. In addition to laying preventative foundations and promoting a positive work culture, managers and HR must be observant, as do employees.
Knowing the signs of workplace bullying and behavioral cues enables everyone to halt it before it snowballs. If it’s discovered, the policies must come into play, and swift action is necessary. The company’s policies on behavioral conflict and workplace bullying mean absolutely nothing and bear no weight if guilty parties do not receive disciplinary action.