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What Employers can do about Workplace Bullying

Bullying is no longer just the act of mean-spirited kids on playgrounds or in school halls. It has grown to become a type of emotional and verbal warfare that is fought at any age, in any social circle and in virtually any setting – workplaces included.

How common is workplace bullying?

According to a CareerBuilder study that involved more than 5,600 full-time workers nationwide, 27% of workers have been bullied at work. Other results of the study:

  • More women (34%) reported feeling bullied than men (22%)
  • The most vulnerable age groups were workers age 55 or older (29%), and workers age 24 or younger (29%)
  • Bullying came from immediate supervisors most often (14%), followed by coworkers (11%)

“Bullying is a serious offense that can disrupt the work environment, impact morale and lower productivity,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources.

Workplace bullying gains political attention

Putting some political muscle behind the growing issue of bullying, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March 2011. It brought together educators, experts, politicians and other concerned individuals to explore how bullying affects American communities and what can be done to minimize it.

What employers can do about bullying at work

There are many things you can do as an employer to address workplace bullies and prevent future incidents of on-the-job bullying, including:

  • Making it clear that bullying is not tolerated in your company. While statements about bullying are a start, employees are quick to notice if actual incidents of bullying are ignored or brushed aside.  Make sure your actions match your words.
  • Creating an inclusive corporate culture. Bullying is often spurred by prejudice and discrimination, so making it clear in action and words that yours is an inclusive and diverse corporate culture will go a long way towards preventing bullying. Make sure your policies and practices recognize ethnic, religious, gender, sexual orientation, age and other differences as positive additions to your company.
  • Providing training on diversity and discrimination. On-site employee training can go a long way toward spreading the message that workplace bullying will not be tolerated – at any time and in any form.

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