Business Owners: Preventing Workplace Bullying

A year ago, I posted this article offering tips for employees who are dealing with workplace bullies. Then, workplace bullying was already a hot topic. These days, as people face growing job insecurity and tough economic times, an underlying feeling of unease is brewing. The issue of workplace bullying has not only become more significant, but this trend will likely grow in the future.

A case in point, check out this article published in the New York Times last week about women bullying other women in the workplace.

For business owners it is important to understand where the motivation for bullying in the workplace is coming from, be able to identify it, and know how to properly handle and prevent it. A workplace bully is a destructive force that can negatively impact employee moral, productivity, and development; it can also put a wrench in an otherwise functioning organizational system. Just ignoring the problem will only make it worse.

Though the Times article presented a few possible reasons for the increase in woman-to-woman workplace bullying, in my opinion, business owners should keep two things in mind: 1. Bullying behavior usually stems from stress and insecurity, and 2. Job-related stress and insecurity increases when employees are not properly appreciated, valued, or respected. It also more likely to occur in a business where employee advancement and development is difficult. (In the case of female bullies, a woman will feel more insecure and threatened around another woman who could possibly take her place or outshine her.)

Business owners will greatly benefit from recognizing the signs of workplace bullying and working to rectify the situation whether it requires firing the disruptive employee or making some changes in the way employees are treated. Though both options may be difficult, business owners have a lot to gain in the long run.

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