I overheard the following between an Office Manager and an employee, “You have ruined my summer by being pregnant.” Yes, it is true! You can image how the employee felt after hearing that not to mention the rest of the staff walking on egg-shells. Not only was the statement bullying it was discrimination.
You may believe you would never tolerate or allow such behavior to occur in your office or would take immediate action to remove such a person from their position and duties; however there is a general lack of awareness of the behaviors bullying encompasses. This gap makes it difficult to detect along with the fact bullying is typically hidden from the “Chief”, therefore, you may not be aware it is happening at all.
What is bullying?
- Intimidating or humiliating insults and criticism
- Gossip and rumors
- Being ignored, undermined or excluded
- Behaviors or language that frightens or degrades
Bullying can come in many forms; verbal, emails, written messages, body language, formal documents, text messages etc. Bullying can also take place through office operations. As a manager, if you are assigning duties above or below an employee’s ability, changing to cause chaos and inconvenience, not providing proper resources to complete a job, you are bullying.
A study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, revealed 35% of workers in the United States have been bullied at the office. The percentage inflates to 50% when witnesses are included. With a tight job market many who are bullied put up with it, but at a cost to both them and the employer.
Reasons We Allow Bullying
Without a solid case, it is hard to convince the head honcho that his Office Manager is a bully. Often, denial is the cause. If you are being bullied, document everything and go straight to the decision maker. It is hard to believe that a business owner would justify or allow workplace bullying but perhaps after reading this article, they will see the light. There still are those that can’t let go of the bully through justification:
- That’s just how they are, they didn’t mean any harm
- He/She is under so much stress
- I can’t run this office without them
Promoting a productive, socially responsible and healthy work environment should be standard procedure. Oftentimes business owners and managers don’t put the pieces together until it is too late.
The bully cost to your bottom line
Putting an end to office bullying is of vital importance to minimize costs, maintain efficient office operation, office culture and employee retention. It can cost a company thousands of dollars to replace a new employee or employees who left because of bullying. The bully cost to your bottom line is:
- Decreased job performance and productivity
- Increased sick leave
- Loss of key staff
- Possible court costs
- Loss of reputation
- Cost of hiring and on-boarding new staff
Managers spend a lot of time finding incentives to keep key employees and ways to reduce operating costs. Perhaps the answer is; Make sure you don’t have an office bully and if you do, take action.
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