The idea of bullying in the workplace may not be a new one, but a recent CareerBuilder survey provides some startling statistics, making it clear that this is all but a rare phenomenon… and becoming more common each year.
Conducted online by Harris Interactive between May and June of 2012, the CareerBuilder study included 3,800 workers across the U.S. and found that 35 percent of workers have felt bullied at work – and that’s up from 27 percent the previous year.
In a Washington State Department of Labor and Industries article, Workplace Bullying is defined as: “repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group) directed towards an employee (or a group of employees), which are intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate or undermine; or which create a risk to the health or safety of the employee(s).”
The article goes on to point to these examples of workplace bullying, including:
- Unwanted or invalid criticism
- Blame without factual justification
- Being treated differently than the rest of the your work group
- Being sworn at
- Exclusion or social isolation
- Being shouted at or being humiliated
- Excessive monitoring or micro-managing
- Being given work with unrealistic deadlines
For leaders, there are behaviors that can and should be avoided, and approaches that should be adopted. At AchieveGlobal, we see these Six Basic Principles as key to building an environment of trust, and a establishing a workplace where bullying is far less likely to take place:
- Focus on the situation, issue or behavior, not on the person.
- Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others.
- Maintain constructive relationships, encouraging a diversity of opinions and perspectives.
- Take initiative to make things better, by owning up to your past mistakes and focusing on the positive.
- Lead by example, setting high standards for your self, and for others.
- Think beyond the moment – making thoughtful plans and behaving ethically.
The cost of unchecked bullying can be high, leading to employee absenteeism and turnover, potential legal action, and decreased productivity. So, maintaining a workplace where bullying becomes unacceptable benefits workers and the organization in far more profound ways than simply keeping everyone happy.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida