04 Dec Bullying in the Workplace and How Your Employee Assistance Program Can Help
Many think of bullying and incorrectly assume that it is only present in schools. That is no longer the case in our day and age. Just because we are at work doesn’t mean we are safe from bullying in some form or another. In some cases, if it’s not confronted correctly, bullying can turn into an unwanted violent situation. No employer wants their employees to feel in danger at work or to dread coming to work due to a lack of respect and dignity within the team. In today’s blog, we want to discuss what the real statistics of workplace bullying are and how to handle it properly BEFORE it gets violent. It may not seem violent now with little petty remarks being made, but it can eventually build up and cause unnecessary division and pain. We also want to give you advice on how to handle threats of violence at work. Finally, we will give you some helpful tips and resources included within our Employee Assistance Program that help with this type of issue.
“75 percent of employees surveyed had been affected by workplace bullying”
Bullying in the Workplace Today
Research from Dr. Judy Blando (University of Phoenix) shares the shocking statistic that 75 percent of employees surveyed had been affected by workplace bullying, whether as a target or a witness. Bullying is seen in many different forms inside the workplace today. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, bullying is defined as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators. It’s abusive conduct that is threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, including work interference and sabotage, which prevents work from getting done. With bullying comes a sense of belittling, pain, and danger. Perhaps you, yourself have experienced this firsthand, whether as a child or in your adult life. Bullying of any form is not acceptable and needs to be addressed right away. No one deserves to be treated less than or mistreated in any way.
The goals of any employee team ought to be dignity, professionalism, and respect. These values will keep a team tight-knit, joyful, growing, and serving one another. If you don’t have this value system within your work environment today, it’s never too late to start implementing your own core values with the help of an Employee Assistance Program like ours.
Handling the Relationship Dynamics of Bullying
Mistreatment of your employees inside your team is not okay, but it’s even more complicated when it comes from Management. With a coworker-to-coworker bullying situation, you can often work with the Manager(s) to rectify the situation. However, it is important to pay attention to the relationship dynamics within your teams as many times instances of bullying are not reported. If you’re handling manager-to-coworker bullying, there can be a lot more work involved. As an employer, the buck stops with you. You are ultimately responsible for your entire leadership structure, from your Managers down to your newest entry-level hire.
When a member of your leadership team is abusing their position of influence and power, it reflects poorly on you. Because of this, you need to quickly deal with any issues of abuse. And if you’re not sure how to best handle these situations, call your Employee Assistance Program for a Management consultation. Whether the dynamics are between coworker-to-coworker or manager-to-coworker, make sure to document the situation, do your best to resolve it, and keep tabs on the relationship. It’s a good sign that they are coming to you and that they were not embarrassed to speak up. Knowing when there are problems is the first step to creating peace within your team.
Question: My employee complained to me that his supervisor was harassing and bullying him. I didn’t take action, because I felt the first step was to have him confront his supervisor. I am ready to step in, but isn’t this inappropriate until he has tried to resolve the issue with his supervisor on his own?*
Answer: In years gone by, your approach may have been commonly recommended. However, in today’s world of work, not taking action after being informed of offensive and hostile behavior is usually viewed by courts as a failure to act and negligence. Likewise, procrastination or putting off investigating the matter can be seen as apathy. Your good intentions are not given much weight. This is why sexual harassment policies support employees going to the next level of management when lodging complaints.
It’s better to ask, “How do I act now in order to get a fast, fair resolution regarding this incident?” Think speed and responsiveness. Is there a role for the EAP? Yes. The employee should be offered support. Do not think that suggesting the EAP is tantamount to accusing the employee of being the one at fault. EAPs reduce risk in business organizations, and helping employees manage any sort of emotionally upsetting incident is one way they do it.*
What to Do If Bullying Escalates to Violence/Threats of Violence
Many times, if they have been belittled consistently by another employee, your employees will feel too powerless to speak up. Repeated verbal abuse does damaging things to an individual who does not feel like they can tell someone. Sometimes, unresolved bullying can ultimately turn into violence if not confronted. If a work bullying situation escalates to violence, it’s important to act as soon as possible. Having a procedure and plan in place before an incident is vital.
Your HR department is responsible for documenting the situation and arranging for medical evaluations and treatment of the injured employee(s) if needed. The police may also need to be called if the situation becomes physically violent or a threat is made to one of your employees. Though this kind of situation seems unlikely, having a procedure in place will keep everybody safe and protected if something does arise. Make sure to follow up with your entire team after the incident to reassure them and ask them how they are doing. It’s so vital to be transparent and forthcoming with your team after a traumatic event like this. It will make your team feel comforted and known, drawing you all closer in the end.
Benefits of Our EAP That Can Help with These Issue
A Formal Management Referral is a solution to help with bullying, violence, and threats of violence in the workplace. Your EAP can also assist with educating managers, HR, and supervisors via orientations and trainings on how to navigate bullying situations. Another important step you should take is to ensure that you are consulting with your corporate legal department, so they are aware of the situation in case they need to get involved.
It’s important to assist the victims of bullying by helping them find counseling services that assist with the emotional and mental health consequences of bullying. Your goal in conjunction with your EAP should be to educate and guide your staff while supporting the victims.
With our Employee Assistance Program at Care Plus Solutions, we have Critical Incident Response services available for you if a violent incident were to arise. We have been employing Critical Incident Response services for over 35 years and know how to help with these issues. Our team is here to help with:
-Critical Incident Stress Defusing
-Critical Incident Stress Debriefing
All of these plans are set up to ensure your team is taken care of and emotionally healthy after intense employee incidents. It will be a process, but luckily, our team knows how to get through it gracefully with you and your employees, and to put a plan in place for future success. Learn more about our Employee Assistance Program’s Critical Incident Response plan here. You can also find out more about our counseling services here.
* Copyright ©2019 by DFA Publishing & Consulting, LLC.