When we are children, we spend a great deal of time dreaming of the day when we will be grownups and things will be different. Whatever the demons of our day happen to be, we believe whole heartedly that once we are all grown up, things will be different. If we are picked last in gym, we will be first when we are adults. If we are bullied on the playground, it will all end when we are big. Unfortunately, this is not always true, and there are many that suffer workplace bullying, well into their adult years. As an employer, it is important that you learn to read the signs.
Less obvious than playground bullying, workplace bullying is often a lot more subtle. While it may be true that there are some workplaces out there where someone will beat you up for your lunch money, it is much more frequent that the bullying takes the form of threats and harassment. Managers and peers that have the opportunity to use their position against another employee and abuse that opportunity are bullies. In some cases, that may take the form of sexual harassment. In others, it may be as seemingly innocuous as a manager not giving you proper credit for your work.
Whether you realize it or not, workplace bullying is actually a very serious problem. Employees that are being bullied are generally unhappy in their jobs and will not tend to stick around terribly long. If they leave, they may have grounds to file suit against your company. If they do stay around, the quality of their work may well begin to suffer as they continue enduring the bullying. It is extremely important that you remain vigilant and keep your eyes open for signs that there is bullying going on in your workplace. Even more importantly, it is important that your employees know that they can come to you or to your human resources department should they ever feel that they are being bullied.
Unlike the typical school yard bully, that knows exactly what they are doing, the perpetrators of workplace bullying may not even realize that they are upsetting anyone at all. Careful and appropriate conversation with them can often help them correct the problem and alleviate the situation. If however you address the situation and the bullying does not stop, then it is vital that you take further disciplinary action to remedy the situation.