Bullies aren't just on the playground anymore. Adult bullies can be found in businesses large and small, and can severely impact worker productivity, morale and even your bottom line.
While these bullies may not be outright taunting and teasing other employees, Dr. Joel Haber, clinical psychologist and bullying expert, said bullies are very much alive in workplaces everywhere. And much of the time, employees may avoid addressing the issue to keep the status-quo.
"They may not want to make a scene, or have people think they are a complainer," Haber said. "It's all dependent on the culture of the company."
This week is Freedom from Workplace Bullying week across the nation, and here are Haber's five points for dealing with a bully in your workplace.
No. 1: Define your culture. The culture in your business has to come from the top, Haber said.
"Are you willing to take a stand when the values of the culture are broken?" he said. "If the person running the company doesn't take a stand on the culture, there is a greater likelihood that bullying behavior may occur."
No. 2: Train your workers. Have a training system in place for bullying and conflict resolution, Haber said. This sets the tone, and allows workers to feel safe.
"If a company hasn't decided to create awareness or training, people may be uncomfortable to report," he said. "With training if issues do come up, workers will know how to handle them."
No. 3: Reporting incidents. Be sure there is a way for employees to safely report any and all incidents of bullying to higher ups, Haber said.
"It can create tremendous stress when businesses don't have safe reporting in place," he said. "Even in family businesses, or businesses that may not have an HR department, there has to be one team member that manages this -- an identified person who employees can talk to without fear of retribution."
No. 4: Investigating incidents. Investigate all incidents once reported, Haber said. Some firms go so far as to hire independent firms to investigate so that workers feel safe and less pressured.
"When a company is dedicated to rooting out this stuff, people realize they care about how their workers feel," he said.
No. 5: Follow through. Once investigations are through, take the necessary actions be it disciplining workers, firing or more.
"This shows you care, and take things seriously," Haber said. "This is critical if you want people to have trust in your company and in you."