Bullying is no longer a playground problem

By: Mark Hook

Date: 17 August 2009

Let me state one thing, I loathe bullying in any form. The idea of a person using their physical, intellectual or a status advantage to humiliate those weaker than them disgusts me. But an excuse (rightly or wrongly) can be made when it occurs in schools – “they are children after all, they don’t know any better”. But what’s the excuse when bullying happens in the workplace? Surely adults should know better than to resort to the type of emotional torture that was once considered to be an issue confined to the playground? Having witnessed work place bullies practice their craft, I can assure you it’s a very real problem, and one that has been ignored for far too long. Thankfully it is an issue that is being increasingly highlighted and one that employers should be on the look out for. Bullying can come in many forms:

  • Proficient staff being constantly criticized or given trivial tasks to do.
  • Employees being shouted at on a regular basis.
  • Staff members being picked on and humiliated in front of others.
  • Setting up a person up to fail by overloading them with unfair levels of work or giving deadlines that are unreasonable to attain.
  • Showing obvious biases to other employees.
  • Attacking members of staff on a personal basis.
  • Ridiculing a person and making them the butt of jokes time and again.

Businesses that don’t address the issue of bullying and leave the problem unresolved waste time and money as:

  • Staff take more sick days.
  • Turnover is higher, leading to extra recruitment and training costs.
  • There is a reduced productivity and quality of service amongst employees as morale is lower.

While these costs can greatly impact upon employers and small businesses in particular, many companies don’t consider the potential legal ramifications involved such as financial penalties and loss of reputation. It’s clear that businesses can no longer turn a blind eye to work place bullying. Those that do are breaking the law and as a business can you afford to pay the price?

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