Workplace Bullying Part 1: A Bully among Us

Workplace Bullying Part 1: A Bully among Us

The spa environment that we strive to create is one of relaxation, peace, and trust. But I’m sure we all have encountered individuals that negatively impact this environment. We try to accept the behavior, keep our distance, or hope that these toxic individuals will eventually leave. But what if that toxic individual is someone that you have to work with every day? Are we equipped to handle this extremely sensitive issue or even know it is happening? Bullying doesn’t need to be physical, most of it is done in private in the form of rumors and gossip. The following statistics are alarming in regards to workplace bullying

A startling 37% of American workers — roughly 54 million people — have been bullied at work according to a 2007 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute. The same survey reports 40% never told their employers and, of those who did, 62% reported that they were ignored.   

Female bullies target other women 71% of the time. Additionally, female bullies more frequently engage in under-the-radar behaviors such as sabotage and abuse of authority. These numbers are staggering when you consider that women make up approximately 85% of individuals employed in the personal appearance industry according to the 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

So how can we eliminate this sort of bullying in the workplace?

From a Leadership standpoint:

  • Recognize bullying behavior. Since statistics show that most bullying will happen under the radar and in the form of sabotage; Leaders need to be tapped into the workplace grapevine to be aware of insidious gossip and put a stop to it.
  • Disrupt the behavior. Leaders can disrupt bullying by providing a safe, confidential space in which employees can talk about their experiences without fear of retaliation.
  • Be accountable. Leaders need to hold themselves and their employees accountable for maintaining consistent standards and ongoing meaningful dialogue. Don’t assume that overcoming a bullying situation once means it will go away forever.

From a Victim Standpoint:

  • Talk it out. If you feel you are the victim of bullying you can take action by talking informally to another coworker about the situation.
  • Going directly to the source. Another approach is speaking directly to the bully. This is not easy but you may find that he or she may not have realized how their behavior has been affecting you.
  • Document everything. You should keep a written record or diary of every bullying incident as you may need to rely on this if you take legal action against your employer.
  • File a grievance. This would be applicable when you feel you cannot talk to the bully or deal with the matter informally. You can lodge a formal grievance with the bully's manager. Your employer would be duty-bound to investigate the complaint.

If you think that making a complaint will cause further bullying or harassment or you are being violently abused, you don't need to follow normal grievance procedures. In cases like this, you can resign and claim constructive dismissal — but seek professional advice before you do so.

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