Workplace bullying causes real and sometimes permanent harm yet management’s champions in HR are often powerless to help. Bullying managers and employees create a toxic environment that results in lowered productivity, lowered team performance, and dysfunction among employees. When bullied employees turn to HR, they may not find much help because the organization’s leadership has not embraced the problem or given HR their support to create and enforce anti-bullying policies.
In part because HR often has few tools for dealing with bullying, 65% of bullying only stops when the targeted person loses their job. According to a 2017 National Survey conducted for Workplace Bullying Institute, about 20% of workplace bullies lost their jobs, 11% were terminated and 8% quit; remarkable loss for an organization to absorb. Even more remarkable is that 44% of targeted employees leave their employer either quitting to escape, being forced to quit when conditions worsen or being terminated because their employer doesn’t know what else to do.
There are many missing links in efforts to address bullying behavior in the workplace. While, conflict coaching, life coaching and counseling can help a bullied employee to cope, addressing this systemic and pervasive problem must start at the top. It can only be addressed by:
• Commitment at the highest levels to address bullying behaviors,
• Engaging in a process to create and communicate anti-bullying policies,
• Creating easy access and empowering targeted employees and bystanders to report incidents safely, and
• Setting and following through on expectations that managers and HR will hold employees accountable for bullying behavior and toxic environments.