How to Prevent Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying can range from obvious mistreatment to subtle behaviors that are toxic to both the individual, team, and the overall work environment. Learn the signs of bullying and how to prevent it in your workplace.

Workplace bullying is often assumed to be managers mistreating their direct reports, but any individual—no matter their position within the organization—can be a victim or a bully to others.

Signs of Workplace Bullying

Obvious Bullying Behaviors

Obvious bullying means colleagues and/or customers overhear or witness mistreatment and inappropriate misconduct from a particular employee. These behaviors may include:

  • Reprimanding people
  • Undermining people in front of their co-workers or customers
  • Intimidating people
  • Yelling and/or using aggressive gestures such as pounding on the table
  • Making snide remarks
  • Minimizing others’ concerns

Subtle Bullying Behaviors

Subtle bullying may go unnoticed by other team members and is more difficult to prove. Mistreatment of one or more colleagues may include:

  • Making threats of job loss, demotion, or other negative consequences in effort to control or manipulate behavior
  • Excluding individuals from meetings or decision-making where they typically would participate
  • Intentionally gatekeeping or distorting information to have an unfair advantage over others
  • Weaponizing incompetence to get people to do additional tasks for them
  • Taking credit for other people’s work
  • Inciting competition and division among individuals
  • Constantly changing expectations to increase likelihood of failure

How to Prevent Workplace Bullying

Promote a Positive Workplace Culture

Above all, it is important to create a healthy company culture that’s based on respect, trust, collaboration, and open communication. Ensure you treat your colleagues with empathy. The desire for a positive workplace isn’t just the responsibility of leadership. It requires the commitment of every employee—no matter their role.

When a positive workplace culture is established, bullying behavior is less likely to take root.

Prevention as a Leader

Implement Clear Anti-Bullying Policies & a Safe Space for Reporting

Develop and communicate clear anti-bullying policies that outline what constitutes bullying behavior, the confidentiality and safety of the reporting process, and the consequences for perpetrators. All employees should have the confidence that there will be no retaliation or retribution against them if they report bullying behavior.

Provide Ongoing Training and Education

Offer regular training sessions to employees and managers on recognizing, addressing, and preventing bullying. This education can help individuals understand the different forms of bullying, the impact it has on victims, and the appropriate steps to take when encountering such behavior.

Lead by Example

Strong leadership is essential in preventing workplace bullying. Supervisors and managers should lead by example, demonstrating respectful behavior and promptly addressing any bullying incidents. Foster open lines of communication so that employees feel comfortable approaching their team lead with concerns without fear of retaliation.

Prevention as an Employee

Speak up

If you witness bullying, speak up and report the incident. Bystanders play a crucial role in preventing bullying by intervening or reporting when they witness such behavior.

Participate in Company-Provided Training and Education

Actively engaging with your colleagues in the provided training and education can help you recognize, address, and prevent bullying within your organization. While it may feel overly time-consuming, taking these trainings seriously can have a positive impact on your overall workplace.

Your EAP Can Help Prevent Workplace Bullying

A comprehensive EAP like Carebridge can provide virtual or on-site training for your leadership team, managers, and employees. Bringing fresh ideas and approaches by leading experts will ensure greater engagement and value. Ultimately, helping your organization thrive.

For more information, click here to learn how you can partner with Carebridge EAP to create a mentally healthier culture in your organization and reduce the likelihood of workplace bullying.