Last week we looked at bullying in the workplace and how it can disrupt the space in which we operate. This week we take a closer look at the deeper impact bullying has on people’s health and the financial impact it has on the business. In our own recent survey over 90% of people had experienced bullying in the workplace and the other percentage having witnessed bullying, it is clear that this is a problem that businesses need to address.
At Earth2Mars we’d like to believe that most companies know that the business runs better when a team is unified, however at a worrying rate bullying is often dismissed or untreated. This oversight can become extremely costly for a business and can be attributed to losses in productivity, lawsuits, sickness and lack of brand trust.
The impact of bullying on an individual employees mental health is something that leaders and businesses need to take seriously. The toxicity of fear and stress created by the bully’s behaviour has a flow-on effect in the workplace environment. The signs to look for in your employees are less engagement with the work, less confidence in sharing their ideas in an open forum, less attendance to team meetings, refusal to work in a team or with a particular employee, increase in sick days, as well as physical signs of stress such as headaches, backaches and sleep problems.
Obviously not any one thing could be caused by bullying but taking some or all into consideration can help a good leader to spot the problem and act before it gets out of hand. This is very much the key to combating bullying in the workplace as leaving it for too long can lead the victims of workplace bullying to depression and helplessness. The impact also to those who witness the bullying, aggression and the constant undermining of a colleague can lead to fears of facing a similar fate and can quickly cause low morale in the workplace and a drop in productivity.
The financial costs of bullying can stagger a business and it is quickly becoming one of the major problems of businesses worldwide especially in this day of social media. The reputations of businesses and how they respond to bullying are constantly tested by public opinion on the internet. Hard-earned reputation of a “family-friendly” business can be ruined overnight by viral videos showing people in leadership roles berating their employees. That is why being proactive and preparing your employees when faced with the challenge of bullying not only empowers you as a leader but the people who follow your business brand, including employees, future employees, customers/clients.
Staff turnover and the loss of key team members results in not just wearing the costs of advertising, recruiting and re-training new staff but also the cost of the reputation of the company. Loss of reputation and becoming known as an undesirable place to work is increasingly commonplace now that former employees can review and share their experiences working for a company on Google, Seek.com and Facebook to name just a few. Developing positive employee relations and training staff on how to avoid conflict and bullying behaviour is a lot more cost-effective in the long run. It also contributes to improvements not only in productivity and morale but also in communication skills within the workplace.
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