Workplace bully

Workplace bullyBullying is a major problem in offices. Here is how you can recognise bullying at work and some actions for resolution.

The anti-bullying week will take place in the week commencing November 11. As small business owners are keen to promote a friendly working environment, we decided to create an article discussing issues surrounding workplace bullying.

What is bullying?

Small business owners must understand what classifies as bullying. Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) in the UK defines bullying as ‘offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient’.

The effects of bullying can damage both the recipient and the business they are working for. If your employees have been victimised, unfairly treated, deliberated undermined by other team members, or someone has spread malicious rumours about them at work, then they are likely to feel demotivated and stressed, which in turn will affect their performance at work, leading to increased absenteeism, high turnover, and costly mistakes that have profound financial impacts.

As a business owner, it is important to emphasise that you do not tolerate bullying at work and if your employees have been bullied, they should come to you immediately.

How to spot bullying

Bullying can be both subtle and obvious, and a few examples listed on the NHS site include:

  • Isolating others: excluding them, ignoring people’s contributions, or even presence.
  • Overworking employees.
  • Spreading malicious rumours.
  • Making comments, causing unnecessary arguments.
  • Unfair treatment.
  • Picking on or regularly undermining someone.
  • Denying someone’s training or promotion opportunities.

What bullying does to your business

1. Creates a hostile working environment

Hostile relations between employees will make employee collaboration extremely difficult, resulting in poor work which is not good for your business.

2. Poor performance and lost productivity

When your employees are stressed, they are likely to call in sick, make more mistakes and be less productive, all of which can cripple a business’s operation.

3. Drive away competent employees

Usually the bad employees are not likely to leave, but they will drive away competent employees.

4. Damage company reputation

Compensation claims and tribunal cases are likely to hurt your bottom line and also the company’s reputation.

Helpfully, Acas has listed guidelines on how to prevent the above from happening for businesses.

How can businesses reduce bullying?

1. Have a formal anti-bullying policy in place

The policy may include:

  • Statement of commitment from senior management.
  • Clear statement that bullying and harassment is unlawful and must be treated as disciplinary offences.
  • Examples of unacceptable behaviour.
  • The steps the organisation takes to prevent bullying and harassment, and the responsibilities of supervisors and managers.
  • Confidentiality for any complaint.
  • Reference of all grievance, investigation and disciplinary procedures, including timescales for action.
  • Reference to training for managers, and protection from victimisation.
  • How the policy is to be implemented, reviewed and monitored.

2. Set a good example

Top-level management should be role models, responsible for instilling good behaviour and creating a positive and motivational workplace.

3. Pre-employment background screening

Properly vetting any potential employees reduces the chances of hiring someone who will bully fellow employees.

4. Deal with complaints promptly

Adhere to formal grievance and disciplinary procedures promptly and efficiently. The options include:

  • Informal resolution means you resolve the issue between you and the other party.
  • Formal grievance procedure normally involves a meeting with your manager where you present your case officially.

Need help with workplace bullying?

If you need help on how to deal with bullying in the workplace – call Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100 for free and impartial advice available Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.