I choose to share this topic on Patty’s invitation for guest collaboration because it is very dear to me. In fact, I have friends who are going through workplace abuse and many of them are trying to either find a new job or trying to report to their HR. Workplace abuse is a serious matter however, it was hardly in a spotlight until the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood. Even that still feels like somewhat unreal to us because well, its the Hollywood where make believe magic comes alive.
Enjoy my piece of contribution and if you like to read others’ too, here’s the link: Awareness – Skilled Helpers Collaborative
In recent years, there is a growing movement that is advocating for the elimination of workspace abuse. Cases where employees were abused by their fellow employees have been increasing in recent years, with some being so severe that it has caused companies to be under scrutiny.
While there is some action done by companies to stop it, it is clear that it is a culture that continues to persist. But why is it happening despite calls for it to end? What can be done to make it an issue that companies must react to immediately?
Bullying in the Workplace is a Taboo HR Subject
One of the major reasons why workspace abuse persists is that it is a subject the HR wants to avoid tackling at all costs. There can be many reasons why this is the case. It could be because of the “power” held by those involved, especially those who bully the victim. If the bully has an important position in the company, HR will have a nightmare trying to replace them and not get the leadership to pressure them into laying off the issue. It is also possible that some HR teams or the company do not have a clear policy on workspace abuse.
Awareness means more people can self-protect
Whichever the reason may be as to why HR doesn’t want to tackle any bullying claims in the workplace, it is important that employees take a stand against it. Some victims do not report their situation because they are not aware of the company’s anti-workspace abuse policies. By building awareness, these people will be able to protect themselves and find support if needed. It will also open discussions on how others can help protect those who are victimised without fearing possible retaliation from those who abuse or bully others.
Train colleagues and managers to detect signs of bullying
One should also launch or request training for everyone to participate. There are special training courses to combat workplace abuse, and they include ways on how to identify workspace abuse as it happens, how to stop it and how to resolve it. Some training courses may even help people discover what behaviours should be avoided to prevent bullying and empower others to report bullying cases without fear.
Allow abuse to be anonymously reported
Some victims of bullying and workplace abuse don’t want to report their situation because they fear that they will be ostracized for speaking out, which can lead to further abuse. Others don’t want to report because the ones who are bullying them are more powerful than them. Those who see bullying do not report because the bullies may turn against them and transform them into victims. Some may not want to get involved at all and ignore what they see before them.
In this case, it is important to have communication and support systems that will allow these victims to report abuse situations. Ask your company to set up a hotline that anyone can dial to speak about abuse cases or get help if they feel they are being targeted. If that is not possible, look for organisations who can provide assistance and list down their contact details so everyone in the workplace can get help. Surveys can also help employees raise their concerns regarding bullying, especially when they see someone being bullied or experiencing it.
HR and Managers to take reports of abuse seriously
If companies want workspace abuse to end, HR and managers should change their stance regarding the issue and take each report seriously. HR officers and managers are keen to get everyone working productively to keep the company growing. However, if workers are not happy because of the toxic and abusive work environment, productivity will decrease and result in unhappy workers. If it continues unresolved, the company may lose the precious talents they need to get the company to flourish.
If you are the HR officer or the team leader, listen to the discussions in the workplace and try to get to know everyone’s position. You can sit down with them, hear out their concerns and find a solution that everyone can agree on. You should also be a model for the rest of the employees to emulate, especially when dealing and working with others.
Openly discuss the effects of workplace abuse on individuals
Finally, workspace abuse is very serious and can have lasting impacts on its victims. When it comes to their health, victims of workspace abuse can experience anxiety, high stress levels, panic attacks and even ulcers. Some may even show a loss of energy and high blood pressure, which can lead to serious health complications in the future. With their physical and mental health declining due to abuse, they will slowly lose their motivation to work and find it hard to focus because all they think about is how to get away from their bullies. Some may even feel isolated or trapped in their situation, further affecting their mindset.
Have regular talks to discuss the effects of workplace abuse with the entire team. You can invite an expert to speak about these impacts so that employees who may have been victimized by abusers can ask questions. If you can’t do these talks, have resources available for everyone to read and discuss with each other. Remember to be sensitive when discussing these issues and don’t judge others if you see them react to the topic being addressed.
If we want our workspace to stay productive and welcoming for all, we must do our part in ensuring that no one will be subjected to abuse. Whether you are a regular employee or the team leader, it is crucial that you step in and lead the initiative to fight against it. As more and more people become aware of the impacts of workplace abuse, there will definitely be changes in the workplace that will improve it for the better.