Unfortunately, there are all too many bullies in the workplace — and, all too often, their abusive behavior has led to violent, even fatal, employee rampages that have made the headlines. It makes sense for business owners and managers to deal with on-the-job bullying before it escalates into a potentially deadly situation.
Recognizing a bully in the workplace can be difficult. These people often have “Jekyll and Hyde” personalities: They can be extremely charming, polite, and respectful in public. However, as a rule, bullies: 1) don’t believe in following the rules of society; 2) crave negative attention; 3) try to put others down by manipulating and degrading them in front of their peers; 4) seek power; and 5) spread untrue rumors in the workplace, disrespect their victims, and refuse to listen to them.
Because there are no federal or state laws against workplace bullying, it might be hard to fire a bully right away. However, there are ways to deal with this problem.
Institute a zero-tolerance policy toward bullying. Your employee handbook and codes of conduct should set a clear definition of the consequences and punishment for bullying, with a specific list of actions for dealing with it.
Enforce the policy. When it’s time to discipline a bully, sit down with the accused person, their supervisor, and someone from your human resources department. If the bully offers to apologize and promises never to repeat the behavior, you might settle the matter by writing a letter of reprimand to be kept in their personnel file. You might also put the employee on probation, with close supervision by their supervisor, and let them know that any further bullying will result in termination.
If you’d like advice on creating and implementing an anti-bullying policy for your workplace, just give us a call.