Thanks to the Worcester Business Journal for soliciting and publishing this short op-ed piece, “Workplace Bullying is Bad for Business,” which ran last week.
Here’s the “takeaway” part of what I wrote:
Too many employers dismiss concerns about workplace bullying. According to a 2007 national survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute and Zogby pollsters, 62 percent of employers either ignored complaints of bullying or worsened the situations.
Nevertheless, employers that want to minimize the likelihood of bullying can take these three concrete steps:
1. Send a message that bullying is unacceptable. The message must come from the top. Specific measures include drafting and implementing policies related to workplace bullying, offering in-house educational programs and presentations, and using effective “360-degree feedback” systems to evaluate supervisors.
2. Empower HR to handle bullying situations fairly and forthrightly. One of the most common remarks from targets of bullying is how the human resources department is “useless” in handling complaints about bullying and, in some cases, turned out to be complicit with the bullies. Effective preventive and responsive measures by HR are key components of any anti-bullying initiative.
3. Remove destructive bullies. Even if an incorrigibly abusive individual happens to be key in attracting business, increased productivity through better morale and less time lost to the gossip mill may make this a sound decision from a purely cost-benefit standpoint.