How Employers Should Deal With Bullies

How Employers Should Deal With Bullies

Forget about it. He’s only kidding.

Just ignore her. She’ll stop eventually.

Why don’t you tell your boss?


Do any of these statements sound familiar? Unfortunately I bet they do. In fact, a recent Forbes article cited that a staggering 75% of workers are affected by bullying.


To be clear, bullying is “abusive conduct” that feels threatening, humiliating or intimidating, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute.

Office bullying is not necessarily a single occasion or instance, but can be repetitive and happen over a long period. It may even take some time before it is brought to anybody’s attention, because:

  • The victim hopes that the bullying behavior will stop of its own accord;
  • The victim is embarrassed and doesn’t want to call attention to the situation; or
  • The victim reports directly to the bully, their Manager or Supervisor, and they fear that bringing the situation into the open may cost them their job.

As a Business Owner, the negative and far-reaching effects of office bullying on your Company and staff can be severe, such as:

  • The victim may not work to their greatest potential and the quality of their work may suffer;
  • The victim may take excess sick or vacation days, impacting their own productivity and necessitating coworkers to take on their work;
  • The victim is distracted and may make mistakes and errors in their work;
  • The victim may speak about the situation to co-workers and erode the morale of the Department or Company;
  • The Company may need to terminate staff.

Business Owners cannot afford to allow office bullying to take root in their companies and should consider the following 4 steps to ensure a “bully-free” environment:

Create a Code of Conduct

One employee’s definition of what is considered bullying might be starkly different from another’s. This ambiguity can be easily clarified with a Code of Conduct about what behaviors are and are not acceptable in the Company. Review the Code of Conduct with all employees and ask them to sign the completed document. Do not wait for an incident to occur; instead, review the rules periodically so that the code isn’t forgotten or ignored.

Confront the Situation

Many Managers and Supervisors make the mistake of ignoring the situation in the hopes that it will stop by itself. Unfortunately that’s rarely the case. The bully will derive even greater power if their actions are left unchecked and the victim will be left to deal with the situation on their own. Never rely on “you two should work it out by yourselves.” One person has the power in this situation and it cannot be worked out unless you intercede.

Create an Atmosphere That Supports Open Communication

It’s easier for bullying to occur when Management does not have open lines of communication with their staff. Employees must feel comfortable going to a Manager to report bullying whether they are experiencing it themselves or have observed the behavior in the department or company.

Don’t Draw any Conclusions Until All of the Details are Revealed

There are two sides to every story and you must remain objective while the situation is being investigated. Rely on facts and be as thorough as possible in order to sort out the circumstances. It’s very likely that you will hear competing stores and you must remember that only one of them is true.

Employees often mimic the behaviors they see demonstrated by Management. If Managers and Supervisors engage in any sort of verbal bullying or make sexual innuendos and inappropriate comments employees may feel that this type of behavior is condoned by Senior Management. Management must set the example for the desired conduct in the office; there can be no exceptions!

Bullying must be dealt with swiftly and decisively. Anything less can impact your reputation and profitability.

What to do About Workplace Bullying


For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, gail@ubsassociates.com or call (516) 935-5641.

By admin June 21, 2017