By ComplyRight –

Stop SignOctober is National Bullying Prevention Month, a time for schools, communities and workplaces to get involved and take a stand against bullying.

In recent years, bullying has grown much bigger than a few “harmless” taunts from kids on the playground. It has become a type of emotional and verbal warfare that is fought at any age, in any social circle and in virtually any setting — including the workplace.

What Is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying is defined as a pattern of mistreatment from others in the workplace that causes physical or emotional harm. Bullying is often done by someone who has authority over the victim but it can also be done by peers.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), an educational organization dedicated to ending workplace bullying, bullying takes one or more of the following forms:

• Verbal abuse
• Offensive conduct which is threatening, humiliating or intimidating
• Work interference or sabotage

These behaviors may or may not constitute unlawful harassment. Bullying is illegal only when it is tied to a protected category, such as race, religion, age or sex. An employee who is mean or disrespectful to everyone might not be committing illegal harassment, but it is still a disciplinary issue that should be addressed.

A survey by the WBI found that more than 60 million American workers are affected by workplace bullying, and males are much more likely than females to be culprits. Left unchecked, bullying can deal a dangerous blow to workplace productivity, as well as the victim’s health. Victims of bullying often report headaches, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression and panic attacks.

Top Tactics Used by Bullies

While there are certain things the victim can do to ease the situation, it’s the company’s responsibility to be observant and responsive to the needs of their employees. To start, managers and leaders should be on the lookout for the top five tactics used by workplace bullies:

1. Falsely accusing someone of errors that weren’t made
2. Staring, intimidating or otherwise showing hostility
3. Discounting a person’s thoughts during a meeting
4. Using the silent treatment to isolate
5. Exhibiting unpredictable mood swings in front of a group

Turning the Tables

Employers must take a clear position against bullying and communicate that such behavior will not be tolerated — at any time or in any form. You need to have clear policies for your employees prohibiting workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination. The Company Policies Smart App from HRdirect gives you access to numerous policies developed by employment attorneys. Best of all, the online tool gives you the option to notify employees to view your policies online, or you can print them out to distribute.

Finally, be certain that managers treat bullying (whether observed outright or brought to their attention) like any other performance management issue. Inappropriate behavior needs to be addressed immediately, with a discussion about what is expected to change and the disciplinary consequences if the problem continues.

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About ComplyRight: ComplyRight’s mission is to free employers from the burden of tracking and complying with the complex web of federal, state and local employment laws, so they can stay focused on managing and growing their businesses. ComplyRight tracks federal, state and local regulatory activity, creates practical, affordable solutions that streamline essential tasks, and complements these solutions with educational content and actionable guidance. From hiring and training, to time tracking and record-keeping, to labor law posting and tax information reporting, ComplyRight’s innovative products and services address the real-world challenges employers face every day.