We’ve all seen snippets here and there about bullying but scratch the surface and you quickly realise just how widespread and toxic it is.

Take a few readily available stats from major areas in the UK.

  • In the UK Regular Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey 2015, 8% of Army members who completed responded yes to the question “Do you believe you have been subject to bullying in the last 12 months?”
  • In the 2014 NHS Staff survey 24% of staff reported they had experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from either their line manager or other colleagues.
  • In a Legal Week Survey in 2015, 91% of respondents believed workplace
    bullying an issue that many firms still need to address more vigorously, 55% of respondents said they had personally experienced bullying at work and 78% had witnessed workplace bullying of others, with 10% seeing it frequently.

There is no doubt that bullying damages and on occasions destroys the lives of those affected, indirectly as well as directly (research suggests those witnessing bullying are more likely to move to a new job too).

Not only is it plain wrong to allow environments where bullying exists, but it is also bad for business.

Some of the consequences can be:

  • Materially reduced staff engagement and performance;
  • Increased illness and absence;
  • Increased staff turnover, extending beyond those bullied;
  • Increased recruitment costs – both because of staff turnover and low reputation;
  • Increased claims – both sickness related and under employment law;
  • Increased turnover
  • Reputational damage.

The issue is hard to root out and there is no one magic bullet but here are a few starters:

  • A commitment to values which include respect for each other;
  • No one above or outside the rules – however much of a star or key to the business;
  • Zero tolerance – nip disrespect in the bud before it escalates (which may ultimately even be better for those with a tendency towards bully);
  • Proper training;
  • Clear objectives and performance management, so that it is very clear what falls into this category;
  • A culture where when people do raise concerns they are taken seriously and no recriminations;
  • Be willing to find out the facts – don’t just assume you have it right;
  • Systems which enable people to report where necessary.

Bullying is unnecessary, demeaning and damaging.  Organisations repeatedly underestimate its existence and effects.   Make sure you are not in that group, ensure that your staff at all levels know it is unacceptable, and that when it does occur they can raise it and you will ensure action is taken.

Recognise it, measure it, raise it, stop it.

Photo: Twentyfour Students via Flickr

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