They’re probably not shaking anyone down for milk money, but office bullies are just as damaging as the ones on the playground. And they’re costing companies … a lot.
With an estimated 37% of all workers being bullied (49% when witnesses were involved) at least once in the office, according to Zogby International, this people problem takes a big bite of companies’ bottom lines in turnover and absenteeism.
The trouble is, workplace bullying can be a lot more subtle than the mean girl in PE or the kid who pushes to the front of the cafeteria line.
So how can you tell if you have an office bully (or two) on staff?
Here’s a checklist of behaviors that an employee may be a bully, according to the organization Stop That Bully.
Think about the dynamics you see every day. Does anyone in your company:
- criticize a co-worker, even when that person is completely competent?
- undervalue the contribution of other team members?
- impose unfair workloads subordinates?
- withhold work-related information from a particular person?
- pick on someone, even “in good fun,” during meetings and other group interactions?
- set unrealistic deadlines?
- spread rumors about co-workers?
- block opportunities to train or advance for others?
See any of those signs and you could have a bully on your payroll. It’s worth addressing ASAP — besides being a terrible emotional abuse to the employee being bullied, there’s another potentially expensive risk.
If the bully is in any position of power and/or the bullied is in any type of protected class, not stopping the abusive behavior could land your company on the defensive end of a discrimination suit.