November 21, 2014

Workplace Bullying: It’ll Cost You

BulliesThere are numerous campaigns floating around the country to fight against bullying in school. This is an enormous problem in the school systems, but it doesn’t stop upon graduation from high school. Incivility in the workplace isn’t uncommon; it is common, however, for the unfriendly behavior to go unaddressed. PayScale published a whitepaper – Incivility & Other Types of Workplace Aggression – which details the ramifications of aggression in the office. It’s not just the incident itself that affects an employee’s work – avoiding the investigators and the aggressors can also cause losses in productivity. Here are some effects of negative office behaviors:

  • 48 Percent of People Intentionally Decreased Their Effort at Work

Workplace aggression, in any form, is toxic. Although workplace incivility isn’t the same as workplace bullying, it still has no room in the office. It is defined as “Low-intensity behaviors that violate respectful workplace norms.”

  • 47 Percent Deliberately Spent Less Time at Work 

Employees who spend less time at work are often healthier — however, this is not the case if they are intentionally missing work because of impolite coworker behaviors.

  • 80 Percent Lost Time at Work while Worrying about the Incident

An overwhelming majority of employees who have been involved in an incident of incivility worry about the effects of the problem at work. Unfortunately, that means they waste time worrying about it while they are in the office.

  • 63 Percent Lost Work Time Trying to Avoiding the Bully

Employees lose time trying to find loopholes so they don’t have to work with the aggressor.

  • 66 Percent Said Their Performance Declined Because of the Incivility

When an employee is concerned about the incident and the one who caused it, their misplaced energy can cause their performance to slip.

  • 78 Percent Said They Were Less Committed to the Company

Aggressors in the workplace create cultural doubt within the employees affected by their behavior. If the poor behavior goes uncorrected, it begins to affect workplace culture overall.

What Can You Do to Prevent It?

Workplace incivility damages company culture, but it can be remedied. Some companies offer stress management as recourse for those affect. However, because many cases go unreported, there is little that many companies do about workplace incivility. The perpetrators are often savvy enough to refrain from uncivil actions in front of upper management. More over, many corporate leaders don’t see workplace aggression as a problem. If it isn’t addressed, it can turn into a much bigger problem — such as bullying.

To stop aggression before incivility turns into something worse, leaders have to take the first step. Modeling how employees should act not only helps to prevent incivility, but it also strengthens the company’s employer brand. Likewise, rewarding good behavior and penalizing negative behavior can reinforce the atmosphere leaders want to see in the office. Don’t confuse workplace conflict with aggression, though: they are two different entities. Conflict is bound to happen. Disagreements at work are natural, because employees spend 40 hours together every week.

The Workplace Bullying Institute says:

“The ultimate solution fixes responsibility for both the cause and the cure squarely on the shoulders of senior management and executives. They put people in harm’s way, and they can provide safety by undoing the culture which may have inadvertently allowed bullying to flourish.”

Workplace incivility isn’t a matter to be tiptoed around. Many employees don’t report the behavior of their coworkers — but if the behavior goes unrecognized for long enough, it begins to negatively affect workplace culture, employee morale, and employee engagement. Bullying and the like have costly price tags, increasing the costs of absenteeism, productivity loss, and even medical bills associated with employee stress.

As a leader, it’s your job to abate this problem before it becomes an even bigger problem. If you don’t stop it by reinforcing good behavior, listening to those who experience problems, and being a model of office etiquette, you’ll see workplace incivility quickly escalate to a much bigger issue.

What have you done to fight workplace aggression?



Read more in Employee Morale

Sarah Duke is a Content Creator at Red Branch Media, a marketing and advertising firm that serves the Human Resources and Recruiting markets. Red Branch Media has grown from a simple consultancy to a full-service B2B marketing agency. Duke brings a history of Public Affairs experience to Red Branch and enjoys writing about the HCM Marketplace.
Google+ Profile