Bullying in the Workplace

We may think that bullying is confined to the walls of high school. Every teen movie imaginable follows some sort of mantra that everything will get better after high school; that bullies just magically disappear. We know, however, that isn’t necessarily true. Bullies still exist in the workplace, and as sports fans recently learned, in the college coaching ranks. So what can we learn from the latest bullying scandal involving now former Rutger’s head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice physically and verbally assaulting his players, and how can it be applied to the workplace?

A recent Forbes article notes that 35% of all employees have experienced first-hand bullying. And while 62% of bullies are men, women who bully are bullying other women 80% of the time. Maybe Mean Girls isn’t so far in the past after all. The statistics show that bullying is a prevalent workplace problem and may be impacting your employees’ productivity, happiness, and job satisfaction.

Studies show that many who are bullied or witness bullying do not come forward, perpetuating the issue. And as Rutgers found out with Mike Rice, not telling on a bully not only hurts your team’s (company’s) performance in the short term, but it may hurt your brand long term as well. Rutgers, and Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, chose not to fire Mike Rice, instead giving him a slap on the wrist for his physical and verbal abuse. When news and video of Rice’s actions spread, the University and Athletic Department looked foolish for failing to monitor their own employees, and not taking harsh enough action against the bully. Instead, Rutgers allowed an unsafe workplace to stay unsafe and looked foolish, insensitive, and stupid when they had to end up firing Mike Rice after the video and story became public.

Being proactive about bullying will not only help your workplace feel safer to employees, it will also help save your brand if any known bullying becomes public. A bully-free workplace is essential with the spread of social media. Turning a blind eye to workplace antics is no longer just morally wrong, but also fiscally irresponsible long term. Learn from Rutgers and the recent Mike Rice termination: end bullying now. It’s the right thing to do both as a person and a company.

Do your workplace policies combat bullying? Share with us below.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Eddie~S