When we think of the traits that make us successful, productivity is high on the list. We are always on the lookout for tips and tricks to help us achieve more in our day. We strive to meet and exceed work and personal goals, while maintaining that precarious balance between the two. Our eyes are on the prize.
However, there is one thing more precious to us than checking items off a task list. We love people. We protect our people, whether clients or employees, but we know that not everyone does.
As a society, we are becoming more attentive to bullying in the playground – where intense harassment is destroying the lives of children and resulting in inexplicable acts of violence. But what about the work place? It would be an unwise mistake to assume that bullying ends after the school years; it just looks drastically different amidst adults.
Bullying is more than taking someone’s lunch money
Bullying can be defined as the act of destroying another individual’s sense of security – most commonly in regards to their personal safety, but also in terms of their mental or emotional well being.
The sense of safety, in psychology, is widely agreed to be a crucial element in the overall health of a human being. It is the second lowest category on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which at its most basic meaning, signifies that it has to be satisfied before an individual can move on towards greater accomplishment and sense of self.
Therefore, when an individual does not feel safe, they cannot thrive, and their growth as a person becomes stunted, leading to all kinds of health, mental, and emotional issues.
What does bullying look like in the work place?
It can vary greatly depending on the environment, but it often begins as some form of isolation where one person singles out another and attacks their work, nit picking on details and demeaning them as individuals. Gossip is another form of attack that draws other people into the bullying and leaves the victim feeling more and more alone and vulnerable.
Eventually it can even escalate to the point of a person being coerced into leaving a job, or dismissed on unfounded, and poorly investigated, allegations. And because that job supports all other aspects of an individual or family’s life, workplace bullying certainly qualifies as a terrifying assault to a person’s sense of safety.
It doesn’t really happen, does it?
According to a survey taken in 2014, 27% of participating individuals have experienced, or continue to experience, bullying in their work environment – and bosses make up the majority of the bullies.
So not only does it happen, but it happens often.
Face It and Fix It
At Zirtual, we make sure that our culture, one of mutual respect and shared success, exists from the ground up. Cultural alignment is a part of our screening process, so no one walks through our virtual door unless we can trust that they will support and nurture the environment we aim to provide.
However the environment of your workplace currently stands, here are some things that can be done to improve existing working conditions.
- Make the desired culture known via training, reminders, and rewarding the times when an employee steps up to demonstrate the goal.
- Encourage leadership to model cooperation, honesty, and other traits of a healthy workplace.
- Regularly check in with employees, providing both personal and anonymous settings for feedback.
- Identify any potential or rising issues, and acknowledge them as a company. Provide solutions with some urgency and make these solutions and their results public (internally) when possible.
- Be honest in company feedback; bullying rarely goes away on its own, and at best it may be redirected to someone else, but remain prevalent in the work environment.
- Make connections with colleagues, either virtually or in person. Just having someone to talk to can alleviate some of the worst symptoms of bullying until the problem can be officially dealt with. Also, closer comrades are less likely to fall, or allow each other to fall, victim of bullying to begin with.
- Refuse to spread gossip or contribute to another individual’s victimization.
We strive to ensure that all of our people, internal and external, have an environment where they are safe, valued, and encouraged, because people who are afraid cannot be their best, and being anything less than that is simply not our way.
Workplacebullying.org is an excellent resource for more information on bullying in the work environment, including the signs, the causes, and action plans for what to do.