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5 Steps to Stop Bullying in the Workplace

Bullying is defined as the use of supreme strength or influence to intimidate or harm a targeted individual or audience. Bullying can include physical or verbal abuse. It creates uncomfortable, and sometimes harmful environments for its victims, even in the workplace. Here are five steps your business can follow to be rid of vicious and harmful acts of bullying.

1)      Background Checks

Every company should have a thorough background check in place for all possible hires. Applications are not always the most accurate source of a person’s past, as some are falsified by applicants. Implementing thorough checks make HR aware if, in this instance, bullying has been a problem in the past for a potential hire. If any type of bullying has been an issue, past or present, it is not worth the risk and both parties should go their separate ways.

2)      Hold Leaders Accountable

Leaders of businesses, large and small, should know their employees inside and out. Being a part of a team in the workplace is what motivates employees and ultimately the success of companies. If bullying is even remotely an issue in the workplace, team leaders and managers must take initiative to resolve the issue. If they fail to do so, ensure there are significant repercussions for those involved. 35 percent of workers have experienced bullying at work first-hand, and it is said to be four times more prevalent than illegal harassment. These numbers are staggering, but with proper leadership in the workplace, bullying incidence rates shouldn’t come close to what they are.

3)      Recognize

This may sound like common sense, but bullying comes in many forms. There is a difference between an employee being reprimanded by a co-worker than getting picked on, on a daily basis. Recognizing a potential problem and making others aware of it allows staff members to keep a close eye on a potentially harmful situation in the future. Recognition is the most important step in bullying prevention anywhere, not just at work.

4)      Implement Anonymous Reporting System

If bullying is taking place at work, nine out of ten times it will be noticed by one or more co-workers. Having a system in place where third party witnesses can anonymously, or openly if comfortable, drop a tip explaining the situation that can help resolve an instance before it escalates to something far more serious.

5)      Zero-Tolerance Policy

Bullying cannot be tolerated at any age, in any setting. It has led to depression, chain-bullying and in some unfortunate cases, suicide. If an employee is found to be a bully, a zero-tolerance policy must be in place, and he/she needs to be terminated immediately.

From small businesses to NFL locker rooms, bullying has been present in many settings and in many forms. Executives, small business owners and managers of companies everywhere deal with the unfortunate issues of bullying in the workplace. With their ability to form a strong and unified team at work, and their initiative to prevent the occurrence of bullying, the risk of vicious bullying acts can be minimized dramatically.  As Warren Buffet once said, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” By following these bullying prevention steps you, as executives, can protect your business reputation, and protect the well-being of the people who help protect it with you.

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