Bullying is Bad Business

There’s a new buzz word hitting the internet – bullying. No that’s not a new word but it has taken on new meaning in new ways with the U.S. Presidential election. While I will not delve into the details of the election I find it a high priority to talk about bullying and its impact on business

Let’s Accept that Adults Get Bullied

I’d like to not have to make that statement – but it is a fact. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute,
37% of adults are bullied at work
That number has been exaggerated to as much as 70%, however the existing data suggests that just above one third of the workforce is bullied. Here’s the rub – 70% is too many people and so are 37%! Taking a step back, if 37% of people are the victims of bullies, that means that there is a percentage of people in the workplace who are the actual bullies! So what is everyone really doing at work?
Every employee deserves the right to go to work in an environment free of harassment
I’ve worked as an employee and employer – I can’t imagine having almost half of my workforce embroiled in a harassing circumstance – so much for performance and meeting your goals. When I taught Sexual Harassment Education in corporations, the fundamental message I wanted each person to know was that the founder of the company did not create or intend for their workforce to be plagued by harassment. As a matter of fact, harassment sickened all company founders to know that they somehow failed the masses and hired a bully.

Why Does It Happen?

There are several reasons people attempt to bully others. More often than not, the struggle with power is the number one reason. Most bullies want to showcase and wield their power to others as some form of thrill. They take action in an attempt to control their victims’ emotions and/or reactions. My grandmother would say, “they’re just jealous”. Experts agree that most bullies are attempting to lower the self-esteem of their targets to reduce the success achieved by them. I talked about this in the article addressing Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Bullies can only attack at their highest level of achievement – which is typically pretty low. It is up to the victims to see the bullying for what it is and “stay high” to fend off the attacks. The reality is the closer you are to self-actualization, the less likely you will be interested in bullying – but that doesn’t mean you won’t be a target for those who are a ways off from being satisfied with their lives.

Who Gets Hurt?

Any company that allows bullying by either not addressing the circumstance or addressing it poorly will lose money, time, and opportunities. How much is bullying worth to CEOs? It could be worth hefty bonuses, lost revenue, and even a loss of their jobs. One bully can literally take down a division by focusing on something other than the goals of the organization. Additionally, by not addressing and stopping bullying in the workplace a company creates a circumstance whereby someone or several people’s civil rights are being violated – and that spells lawsuit, public outcry, and a public relations nightmare. Is bullying worth losing customers, revenue, and opportunities?

Let’s Crunch Numbers

  • Employee A is projected to make $20,000 for their company through the work that they do this year.
  • Employee B is projected to make $35,000 for their company
  • If Employee A is engaged in bullying Employee B, they are taking away at least 25% of their work time and productivity focused on something other than business objectives. Let’s shrink that $20,000 into $15,000 in revenue from Employee A (loss -$5,000).
  • Employee B is being plagued by the bullying and is only able to perform at 50% on the job. Let’s shrink that $35,000 to $17,500 (loss -$17,500)
  • At the end of the year this unaddressed problem cost you $22,500. The company lost money and may face a lawsuit for a civil rights violation (more money lost).
  • Making better employment decisions before and after hiring could save any lost revenue and even leave room to hire more positive and productive revenue generating employees.

The Three Rs – Recruit, Retain, Resolve

I used to talk about this when I taught Sexual Harassment education. Companies recruit (help you get on the bus), retain (help you stay on the bus); and good companies resolve (stop the bus in the middle of the street and let you off if necessary). It is the “resolve” portion of the fundamental roles in human resources that many fail to execute. For the good of the company, the environment, and the goals to move to the next level – there must be zero tolerance for bullying. This “go along to get along” mentality is crushing companies and allowing competitors domestic and international to move ahead. It’s time people stood firm to what is and is not acceptable in the workplace (including in basic human behavior ) and leave the bullies “off the bus.” #ByeBullies #ShockTheWorld

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