Workplace bullying is a common occurrence and there are ways to stop it.
“It happens way more frequently than it should,” said Sandi Verrecchia, president and CEO of Satori Consulting, at an Employee Assistance Program Association of Toronto seminar on Tuesday.
Last week, an OfficeTeam survey found more than two in five adults have been the victim of an office bully.
Bullies can also chase away good employees.
A book about bullying, The Bully at Work, finds 40% of targets quit their jobs and 24% get fired. However, just 24% of bullies are punished.
Verrecchia noted bullying can happen in any organization, even in sports.
Former Miami Dolphins player Jonathan Martin was taunted and harassed by his teammates. The National Football League commissioned a report on bullying within the Dolphins, but most victims don’t get their story heard.
She provided some tips on what employers can do to end workplace bullying:
Adopt a zero tolerance policy – Employers need to communicate what’s tolerated and everyone needs to abide by the policy.
Create a safe environment – People often don’t come forward because they don’t feel safe. Having a hotline to call or a group they can attend will help.
Educate and train employees –Leaders need to know how to support their employees. They also have to be able to identify a workplace bully and be able to deal with him or her.
Be transparent – Employers need to do the right thing, not the easy thing. A change in the culture needs to come from the top down. It’s not a bottom-up change.
Workplace bullying is an epidemic that needs to be stopped in its tracks, Verrecchia said. “Let’s not sweep it under the rug.”