As founder of the National Bullying Helpline, I believe bullying in the workplace is on the increase. The average number of visitors to our website is 500 to 1,000 per day. However, this year we have been known to experience more than 2,500 in 24 hours. This may be because there is more discussion about acceptable professional behaviours in 2018, so awareness of bullying is greater.
In addition, a rise in the use of technology means employers are experiencing an increase in online harassment in particular. We know that social media forums are often used inappropriately when an employee has been dismissed or feels aggrieved, and wants to ‘lash out’ at management or co-workers.
How Managers Can Address Workplace Bullying
The most effective way for managers to eliminate bullying is to ensure that staff members feel safe to speak out about the treatment they receive. There is still a fear among victims of bullying that raising a grievance will harm their career.
When bullying is suspected, informal discussions can be a good place to start. The points raised in these meetings should be documented and managers should follow-up by email. This makes future formal investigations easier, and also ensures employees feel their concerns are taken seriously.
Skilled Management is Essential
To create this supportive, fair environment we need skilled managers with an understanding of how to successfully lead and support others. Personally, I feel strongly that it should be mandatory for all those promoted into a supervisory or head of department post to be tasked with undertaking leadership training before their appointment is confirmed.
We need to introduce a promotional probation period (PPP) until relevant training has taken place. What an ideal opportunity to ensure management understand corporate risk, duty of care and in-house policies. If individuals are not able to grasp these important issues, they are not managerial material.
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