It's back to school time and parents all across the country are concerned about bullies in the school yard. But what happens to these bullies after they graduate from High School? Do they magically transform into the type of people you'd like to take to dinner? Most certainly not. These people move into the workplace.
EAP care managers at ValueOptions®, the nation's largest independent behavioral health and wellness company, have noticed an increase in people accessing the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) because they are being bullied on the job. So you may be thinking that we are all grownups here and that people should be able to fend for themselves. Big mistake if you are the owner of a company or a member of senior management. Here's why:
According to Rich Paul, vice president of Health & Performance Solutions at ValueOptions®, "At work, bullying can be less obvious and occur over a long period of time, resulting in extreme stress and anxiety for the employee"
Workplace bullying doesn't just affect the person being bullied," Paul said. "It divides work teams, distracts from the job and causes untold hours and days of lost productivity for the employer." One alarming trend, notes Paul, is the rise of group bullying, which isolates and targets an employee for his or her differences.
The stress caused by being bullied on the job can cause physical and mental health problems, can result in increased use of sick days and can create situations that lead to workplace violence.
You may be sitting in your office or vacationing in Hawaii thinking everything is fine. When in fact your number two person is out there pushing people around. Here are some signs that there may be a bully amongst you:
- People get quiet the moment this person walks into the room. These are the same people who used to provide you with innovative ideas to keep your business moving ahead.
- The number of sick calls increases exponentially and flu season is months away.
- Employees who used to be smiling no longer laugh at work.
- No one is willing to challenge the ridiculous ideas coming out of the mouths of particular people.
The only way to handle a bully is to take them head on. Let them know their behavior is unacceptable. They may not respond the first time, but eventually they will find another target if they no longer are getting satisfaction from yanking your chain.
And for you business owners and managers with bullies…get in the cage and either tame this lion or send your bullies packing. Do so before more damage is done.
I welcome your comments on how you've handled bullies in the workplace.