Workplace Bullying: Case Study

Introduction

A significant number of employees suffer from workplace bullying from their co-workers either directly or indirectly. Bullying involves repeated mistreatment of one or more person by one or a group of people in the workplace. It can be verbal or through offensive conducts that are demeaning and intimidating. Other forms of bullying include the use of aggressive voicemails, offensive remarks, cursing, and name-calling. These activities may lower the self-esteem of an employee leading to poor performance. Therefore, managers should be alert to detect signs of bullying early and mitigate the vice before it leads to devastating effects for the company. Most bullies appear delightful, but they torment and torture other employees leaving them insulted and afraid. Workers often worry when around bullies as they are uninformed of their next course of action. Thus, bullying causes distress and increases the level of anxiety among employees. A majority of employees do not report the cases; instead, they focus on seeking alternative employment opportunities thus leaving the bully to continue damaging other workers’ morale.

Character Analysis

Jane Epstein recently shifted to TechniCo Company. She acknowledges that she inherited a good team, which comprises top performers with well-behaved individuals. For example, Caroline has worked in the company for the longest period. She is friendly as many colleagues find it easy to approach her. As such, almost all the employees in the company trust her. On the other hand, Tom is a salesman with a lively personality that keeps him going, while Jack is shy and an intellectual. However, Jane has a concern about how Andy Zimmerman behaves in the workplace as he intimidates her and other employees even though he is intelligent. Andy is aggressive and, on several occasions, Jane noticed that he uses hostile and hurtful words to put across his message to other employees. Andy has a serious problem when it comes to interacting with other employees and uses intimidating remarks (Cliffe 3). Jane tried talking to him once to assess his willingness to change but realized he has no plans of changing his character. Bullies are detrimental to business performance even if they are top performers as their behavior can have adverse effects on the productivity of other employees.

Impacts of Bullying

Understand the impact of bullying on a business requires consideration on its effects on the victims. Workers experiencing bullying are likely to suffer from psychological and emotional distress. Employees have different levels of tolerance; hence, some may longer before speaking out. Also, the workers might suffer from sleep disturbances, high levels of anxiety, and depression (Curry 18). Productive workers require undisturbed sleep and should not suffer from depression. Employees may suffer from headaches and other related diseases while at the workplace. Moreover, bullying affects workers’ productivity levels and attendance. Employees experiencing bullying will have low self-confidence and morale. A significant number of employees attempt to commit or succeed in taking their lives due to workplace bullying. It is unacceptable to lose a relative, friend, or worker due to workplace bullying. The impact of bullying for a business is significant as the company might experience direct and indirect financial consequences. The business may experience high staff turnover, and associated recruitment costs as many employees quit their jobs. The rise in the number of absent employees will, in turn, reduce the overall organizational productivity. In addition, bullying destroys the image of a business, especially when the misconduct is made public. As a result, the company will likely incur costs while compensating employees who file legal claims in a court of law. Lastly, the company can lose competent and high performing workers to other competing firms.

Possible Solutions to Workplace Bullying

Jane should implement corrective measures to contain the bullying to avoid the situation from escalating. She should understand that despite performance being critical to the company, an employee’s behavior significantly impacts the overall productivity of the business. First, Jane should manage Andy’s misconduct without factoring in his performance. If Andy were a non-performer, Jane would have suspended or fired him for bullying. Therefore, she should not tolerate his behavior only because he is a top performer. The company would end up losing finances and resources in the form of the workforce as compared to the gains brought in by a bully. As such, Jane needs to take stern action against Andy to protect other employees from being bullied or warn potential bullies. She needs to lay down strict rules that govern employees indicating that bullying is illegal among the company’s employees and culpable workers would face suspension, fines, or termination of employment.

Secondly, Jane should introduce policy changes to curb future bullying acts. Jane admits that the company dismisses underperforming employees every year. Therefore, she should recognize that cases of bullying increase rapidly in competitive workplaces. As such, Jane should review the policy and come up with a workable formula to motivate employees to improve their performance rather than using dismissal threats on underperformers. Competition makes employees feel threatened and cause them to engage in group bullying for self-preservation. Jane should advocate for inclusive workplace policies that encourage collaboration and peer mentoring and advocate for the company to adopt a balanced reward system to reduce the occurrence of bullying in the workplace.

In addition, Jane needs to engage other senior leaders and brainstorm on the most effective methods of curbing bullying among the company employees. It is easier to control the behavior of employees through cooperation among organizational leaders who are socially responsible and supportive. Jane should act as a role model for other leaders and employees by tabling the bullying issue. Moreover, she should be observant and respond to signs of group bullying in the company, especially to women and minority groups (Curry 21). In this case, Jane can subject Andy to disciplinary action for being abusive and disrespectful towards his colleagues. Her actions would serve as a warning to other bullies and provide victims with a platform to air their grievances by reporting oppression at the workplace.

Conclusion

Managers should take effective measures upon observing signs of bullying at the workplace. In this case, the most effective approach to bullying is to introduce policy reforms that motivate workers and encourage healthy competition. The policy changes can be enforced alongside the company’s code of conduct to guide employee behavior regardless of their position or performance, thus mitigating adverse misconduct consequences to the organization. Managers have a legal duty to protect employees from hazards by providing a suitable working environment. Therefore, addressing bullying at the company will help to ensure employers feel safe. As a result, the company will retain its diverse talent of top performers and reduce the cost of recruiting and training employees caused by high worker turnover. Designing a work culture that opposes bullying will significantly reduce cases of worker intimidation and abuse.

 

Works Cited

Cliffe, Sarah. “What a star-What a jerk.” Harvard Business Review 79.8 (2001): 37-48.

Curry, Lynne. “Bully be gone: What is workplace bullying and why does it matter?” (2018): 18-22.

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