According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, almost 40 per cent of workers report having been bullied. Bullying can cause emotional and physical damage to employees; such damage often includes feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, which can lead to problems like anxiety, depression, hypertension or migraine headaches.
Bullying can also financially damage your company. You may end up with legal fees if a victim makes a legal claim against the bully or your company. You may need to send a victim to counselling to help with anxiety, stress or depression. Or you may need to send your employees to classes for anger management, leadership training or sensitivity training to encourage a bullying-free workplace. But bullying can cost you a lot more than legal fees or employee counselling. The following are more ways workplace bullying can affect your company financially.
Bullying directly affects a victim’s confidence and is likely to decrease his or her productivity at work. Victims may also experience high anxiety, which can be very distracting and even debilitating.
Reduced productivity is bad for business and can lead you to discipline the employee, take away responsibilities or possibly terminate him or her. You may not realize the employee is being bullied, and therefore do not have the chance to offer any counselling or other assistance.
A bullied employee may go to great lengths to avoid a high-stress situation at work. Calling in sick or using a large amount of paid time off at once are common tactics used to avoid a bully.
Other employees may have to make up the extra work, possibly resulting in overtime, complaints or even more bullying behaviour. An excessive number of lost working days benefits no one.
High Employee Turnover
A survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that for 25 per cent of respondents, the best solution to stop bullying was to quit their jobs. Nineteen per cent of the respondents felt forced to quit when circumstances were made deliberately worse.
Each time an employee leaves the workplace, you have to recruit, hire and train a new employee. An unstable work environment like that is expensive and time-consuming, and can be exhausting to existing employees.
Workplace bullying also causes a decline in morale for employees who are not victims of bullying. These employees may be less likely to interact with others out of fear of being bullied themselves, and this may create a hostile or uncomfortable work environment. This could cause the workplace to have a higher turnover rate as employees throughout the company suffer the effects of a not-so-happy work environment.
Negative Impact on Company’s Reputation
Victims of bullying are likely to talk to friends or family about what is going on and how they feel about it. This information can spread quickly and sour your company’s public image.
A poor public image is especially destructive to a company that depends on the public for patronage, such as a restaurant or a landscaping company. A negative image can also deter jobseekers from applying to your company, making it more difficult to recruit new employees.
You can control the risk of bullying in your workplace by following these tips:
- Develop a workplace bullying policy (and follow it). Use clear language to define what behaviour your company considers to be bullying.
- Include information on how to report bullying.
- Document, investigate and follow up on every report of bullying.
- Make it clear that employees will not be retaliated against for reporting bullying.
- Establish expectations of appropriate behaviour and the consequences for employees who fail to comply with those expectations.
- Provide training, education, information and awareness on workplace bullying for all employees.
- Provide clear job descriptions that include an outline of the specific roles and responsibilities for each position within the workplace.
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