Workplace Bullying

Bullying is most often associated with school situations, but the workplace is not immune from bullying behavior. Managers with Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) have noticed an increase in people accessing their services because they are being bullied on the job.

The stress and anxiety caused by being bullied on the job can cause physical and mental problems, resulting in the increased use of sick days. In addition to lost productivity, bullying behavior often divides work teams. One alarming trend is the rise of group bullying, which isolates and targets an employee for his or her differences.

Bullying on the job takes many forms: a supervisor assigning undesirable work, encouraging someone to quit or transfer, taking credit for another person's work, or verbal put-downs of race, gender, or disability. Other forms of bullying in the workplace include:

Falsely accusing someone of errors that were not made;

Staring, intimidating, or otherwise showing hostility;

Discounting a person's thoughts during a meeting; and

Using the silent treatment to isolate.

Bullying is often masked as a communication issue and may not receive the attention it deserves. It is recommended that employers consult with their EAP if these services are available. Also, be certain that an anti-harassment policy is in place and that supervisors are trained to recognize bullying behavior. Employers should understand the potential consequences of ignoring bullying behavior. In addition to productivity and morale issues, this behavior may result in allegations of discrimination and legal action. Victims of bullying may reach their "boiling point," and they may lash out at company property or co-workers.

SESCO Management Consultants is available to assist with workplace issues. You may contact us by phone at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com .