Bullying – A Behaviour Choice.

This year’s Anti-Bullying week was aimed at teaching children to respect each other at school, in their homes and communities and online.  Sadly, bullying is on the rise not only for our children, but in the workplace and we could all learn lessons from this campaign:-

  • The definition of respect
  • That bullying is a behaviour choice
  • That we can respectfully disagree with each other i.e. we don’t have to be best friends or always agree with each other but we do have to respect each other
  • That we all need to choose to respect each other both face to face and online

Financial Impact of Bullying in Organisations

Bullying in organisations is endemic, frequently overlooked or unreported and thoroughly toxic. It creates stress, affects motivation and mental wellbeing, destroys lives (literally) and erodes business. Here are a few well researched facts.  They are far more shocking than many people would realise.

[1] Slater & Gordon Survey 2015;  [2] Slater and Gordon Survey 2015;  [3] ACAS study 2015;  [4] NHS Staff survey 2017

It is easy to overlook the effects of bullying on organisations, but the costs in human terms, and financially are enormous.  Acas suggest that:

“The economy-wide impact of bullying-related absenteeism, turnover and lost productivity in 2007 was estimated as £13.75billion and a 1.5 per cent reduction in overall UK productivity – equating to a financial impact on GDP of approximately £17.65 billion.”

That is equivalent to around 14% of the NHS budget. Across a UK workforce of 34.4m people that amounts to £545 per member of the workforce.

Did you know that there is no legal definition on Bullying? It is a question often asked of acas and you can read more from Krissy Simmons, acas Senior Advisor & Fair Treatment Officer, who says that the definition acas use is:”

“Bullying and harassment is any unwanted behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated or offended” acas

Barriers to Speaking Out

There are a number of reasons people don’t raise concerns over bullying and harassment.  As a result, understanding these barriers can help you stand out and empower people in your organisation to raise bullying concerns.

Employees may fear that raising issues may make the situation worse for them.  Being perceived as a troublemaker to others and standing out from the crowd.  What effects in may have on their career and will they face being ridiculed for raising concerns.

It would not be an exaggeration to say in some areas this has built into a learned collective fear of raising concerns.

Whether you feel that the above worries are justified in your organisation or not.  Understanding them will help you overcome and manage them more effectively.

Employers Responsibilities

The Accidental Bully can be just as toxic towards your organisation as their more deliberate cousins.  Often, they are not aware of the carnage they wreak around them, which sadly, frequently goes unnoticed by senior managers. 

Steps to stamping out bullying and harassment in your workplace:-

  • Policy: Have a clear, well set out, accessible, policy on bullying.  Engage and involve staff in giving their input to this process.
  • Employees: Ensure that all your staff are aware of your policy, know where to find it and have read it.
  • Communication: Clearly communicate expected behaviours to everyone.  No exceptions.
  • Training: Train managers in how to create an environment where it is not tolerated, how to spot bullying when it and how to tackle it.
  • Duty: Make sure senior managers are aware of their duty to call out bullying. Set a good example and lead by it.
  • Feedback:  Create and promote a culture of respectful feedback.
  • Pro-Active: Tackle things quickly.  Act on the wrong sorts of behaviours early in the day.
  • Culture:  Be honest as an organisation.
  • Reporting: Ensure there are appropriate routes to report.  Make sure the reporting and escalation process is very clear.
  • Process: Ensure your grievance process is clear, fair (for all parties) and timely.
  • Integrity: No repercussions.  Ensure that anyone raising a concern in good faith do not suffer reprisals.
  • Measure: Check whether you are getting it right. Ensure that your staff surveys, or pulse surveys are carried out in a way which staff can trust and enables you to measure whether staff feel your organisation has a problem with bullying or is free from it.

Conversely where these things are missing, incomplete or not working in harmony then bullying will find much more room to flourish.

With good sound processes and a zero-tolerance stand, it should be harder and less likely for a bullying culture to succeed.  Download our free e-book, Workplace Bullying – The Definitive Guide for more detailed advice, information and free downloads. These are designed to help you put sound processes in place to tackle bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Speaking Up Process

You can’t tackle bullying if you don’t know about it so make sure that you have a good speaking up process in place. Download another of our free e-books, Building a Successful Speaking Up Process in your Organisation, to learn how you can achieve this.

Finally, WorkInConfidence provides the industry leading anonymous conversation system, Protect, where staff can raise ideas or concerns and give candid feedback to management confidentially. With this in place you’ll be able to tackle any issues that come to light and keep valuable employees in the organisation.

Protect: Anonymous Speak Up: A safe and secure way for your people to anonymously raise concerns via phone, tablet, or PC, ensuring you are aware of any workplace issues and can respond quickly and accordingly

Consolidated Case Management: A secure online place to record, track, update, and report on all speaking up matters, whether raised through WorkInConfidence or directly.

Surveys: Easily set up, run and interpret surveys on engagement, respect, wellness or other topics to ensure you always understand your people, their needs and motivations.

Discussion Boards: Demonstrate your commitment to collaboration with discussion boards to accelerate employee engagement and gain greater insights – anonymous if required.