Workplace Bullying Causes & How to Prevent Them

July 26, 20195:12 pm11534 views

Are you aware of how frequent workplace bullying happens in your office?

Workplace bullying, consciously or not, occurs quite frequently in the office. According to WBI data, workplace bullying is on the rise. The data revealed that more than half of employees in America have been affected by bullying, either as a target or as a witness to abusive behaviour against a co-worker. The types of bullying that commonly occur are direct and indirect bullying which include physical, verbal, relational, and damage to property.

According to a study published in NCBI, if not mitigated seriously, workplace bullying can result in various problems such as increased mental distress, sleep disturbances, fatigue in women and lack of vigour in men. Bullying also results in higher depression and anxiety, adjustment disorders, and even work-related suicide. In other words, bullying could threaten company bottom line.

See also: Are Asians more Accepting of Workplace Bullying?

Fortunately, bullying is an act that we can stop. Among the most effective ways is by supporting coworkers who are the victim of bullying. As an employee, you can help your company go through bullying cases by understanding the causes of bullying itself. By understanding the causes, you can create better prevention. So, what are the common causes of workplace bullying? We have listed some for you so read on…

Cause 1 – Work environment that accepts aggressive behaviour or tolerates a high degree of interpersonal conflict

Organisations tend to believe that interpersonal conflict is a trivial problem between colleagues and this will fade away by time. Consequently, leaders prefer not to take such cases seriously.

Solution: If you witness such acts, do report to employer immediately. If the conflict happens between employer and employee, do report to higher supervisor such as a manager. The person being told, however, should take the report seriously and conduct an investigation to know deeper about the report. If the bullying does result in serious injury or problem, do make the bully aware of his actions and support the victim, respectively.

Cause 2 – Organisation that experiences abrupt of ongoing change

For example, company continuously change their policy/rule or manager who continuously asks for a change in their plan. This kind of act can lead to employee stress and depression. Thusly, it can increase absenteeism or turnover.

Solution: Change in company policy should be done when needed only. For manager or employer, you should not give sudden and continuous change. If you do, however, you can make a note and give an announcement to employees far before the change should be implemented. It might need further research and survey to create a planned company change.

Cause 3 – Company policy and demands

For example, there is a high competition in the workplace which demands their employees work long hours and pits employees against one another to increase productivity. In such case, a highly productive employee might be prone to be the victim of bullying from those who do not want the A star to get the promotion.

Solution: Supporting and providing fair judgment to employees will be needed. You can also create healthy workplace competition by promoting healthy conflict such as open discussion.

Cause 4 – Poor relationship in workplace  

Be it poor relationship between management and employees, leaders and employees, or employees and employees, any kind of poor relationship could lead to a higher bullying rate. For example, if employee A and employee B relationship are not good in the workplace. They will compete to death with each other, resulting in an unhealthy competition such as the silent treatment, cyberbullying, or ostracism.

Solution: You can help build better relationships amongst team in workforce by showing understanding and care without being picky to certain team or employees. Building better workplace equality and culture will be very helpful for mitigating this problem.

Cause 5 – Informal group norm in workplace that supports ridiculing or isolating others

Managers and employers might not always be aware of their employee’s behaviour – what employees do or create behind them that still aligns with company’s norm. For instance, some employees might involve themselves in an informal group that specially designs to bully others. Cyberbullying in such group might also happen frequently.

Solution: Employer can invite a consultant to do an independent work environment assessment. A work environment assessment can provide you with a thorough understanding of the dynamics of the employee workgroup and identify barriers to create a healthy and productive work environment.

Read also: Understanding Workplace Ostracism & Its Effects on Employees

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