I made certain that bullying was inserted as a form of harassment in our employee handbook. Here’s why.
In a past life, I served as Vice President of Human Resources and Development for a small nonprofit. As part of my tenure, I redrafted the employee handbook, and with the assistance of legal counsel, revised our definitions of harassment. Of course, all of the standard definitions existed within the text, such as harassment based on sexual, religious, or political affiliation. However, I included harassment to include the word “bullying.”
And yet, when I took a contract position in a prominent Fortune 250 company, I encountered an instance of bullying against me. I was told, “That’s what they do. Some of them are just bullies.” Thus, bullying was accepted as a cultural norm in the workplace.
No. Just no. Why?
1) Bullying is emotional abuse.
I should be able to come to work knowing that I will not be abused. Period. By any psychologist or psychiatrist definition, bullying is a form of emotional abuse meant to weaken and diminish “the other.” As such, bullying should not be tolerated in the workplace.
2) Bullying affects a company’s bottom line. When a workplace culture passively or actively accepts bullying as a norm, rampant turnover is the result. Turnover costs a company the departing employee’s salary plus an extra 25% of that employee’s salary—at a minimum—to rehire. The company that retained me as a contractor broadcasted a turnover rate of 55%. Let that sink in.
3) Bullying at work affects relationships at home. The stress endured from workplace bullying can result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that can be brought home. This happened to me. I was bullied by my supervisor in another position and brought my stress home. My husband and I got into a huge fight. I woke up the next morning, apologized to my husband, and said to him, “I know what I need to do. I need to quit my job.” Two days later, I did.
Priorities matter. My marriage is sacred above all else.
Have you encountered bullying and what did you do?