Workplace bullying is a problem that’s often overlooked, but if it’s dismissed or left untreated it can become extremely costly for a business.
The Australian Human Rights Commission estimates up to $36 billion dollars is lost each year from Australian businesses due to the effects of workplace bullying. These costs can be attributed to losses in productivity, sickness, law suits and even reputational damage.
With the mix of personalities found in the workplace there’s bound to be conflict and when this conflict escalates it can often lead to bullying. While most businesses advocate for a bully free workplace, many fail to implement a strategy for their employees to follow. This means that often the root cause of the bullying is left unaddressed.
The best way for businesses to combat workplace bullying is to focus on employee training and development. Modern approaches such as educational workshops have shown great success in helping to bring workers closer together and overcome differences, leading to increases in productivity and morale.
Workplace bullying can lead to a number of different problems when ignored including:
Consistent Chances of Lawsuits
Workers left to feud and treat colleagues badly will eventually end up pushing too far, resulting in costly lawsuits. Whether it is sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying or other inappropriate action, if workers aren’t properly trained then the chances of expensive lawsuits will only continue to increase.
Decreased Morale and Productivity
Employees who are victims of workplace bullying will not feel safe coming to work. They may miss deadlines, call in sick or avoid the people they work with.
The effect of workplace bullying will lead to a stifled atmosphere and lowered morale. If left too long, a soured work relationship can weigh down entire departments and cause significant losses in sales and productivity.
Higher Turnover of Employees
Research indicates that an employee’s decision to leave an organisation is heavily influenced by bullying behaviour, as they may feel that resigning from their job is the only way to stop harassment. In other cases, those who are the source of the bullying may also have to be let go.
Employees who leave your business will take all their experience and knowledge with them, resulting in a loss of time and money spent investing in them. Recruiting and training new employees will take up valuable resources, which could be better spent on preventative measures.
Loss of Reputation
In an increasingly online world, reputation is more important than ever. Employees who are the victims of workplace bullying will take those grievances with them into new jobs and are likely to tell friends and family, or even leave public reviews. This could cause huge damage to a business’ reputation, regardless of whether the claims are true or false. Loss of reputation can also make it difficult to hire new staff, as your business may become known as an undesirable place to work.
Finding a Solution
Most businesses deal with workplace bullying on a superficial level, by stating in their code of conduct that it won’t be tolerated. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t equip employees to handle bullying situations. Employers can do better by training their employees to handle workplace bullying.
Developing a targeted and proactive strategy against bullying can be a cost-effective way for businesses to invest in their future. Positive employee relations not only help a business avoid conflict and bullying behaviour, but will also contribute to improvements in productivity and morale.