How to protect your talent from workplace bullying

Here are a few things that organisations can do to mitigate bullying behaviour.

The following is an excerpt from Turning Gen Y On: What Every Leader Needs to Know about Recruiting and Retaining the Millennials by Marion Neubronner. Check out part one here.
 

About the Author

Marion Neubronner is a psychologist with twenty years of experience into what makes people tick. She is also an author and the in-house multi-generational expert for Singapore’s Civil Service College.

Previously, we talked about what exactly workplace bullying is, and why it occurs.

But why is it important to protect employees from workplace bullying? Let’s hear from two Gen Y employees:

B. T., 24, Marketing Industry:

“There is a lot of bullying in the workplace. I was at a semi-government organisation and had my boss scream at me every single day. I was expected to take work calls during days when I was on leave, to do up minutes after meetings when I had not been told before the meeting nor did I take notes for, and there was a lot of verbal abuse and unnecessary name-calling.

“When I quit the job after 1.5 years because I could not take it anymore, who knew that I would land another job that had a supervisor who screamed at her team every day and tell us how “worthless” we were all the time, while she watched Korean dramas at work. The management had issued a warning letter to her before, but was this the best that the management could do? I left this new job after a week.”

H. Z., 26, Publishing Industry:

“Companies need to understand that right now they are catering to a different type of people. The generation that was devoted to their work 10, 20 years ago are no longer around.

“So if you really want to attract talent, and keep it, you really need to change and find different ways of establishing a work environment.

“You need to change how things work – I assume people here say things like, “Oh no, you need a schedule. You need to work from 9 to 5 in order for things to function.

“But my company is a perfect example of how you don’t need that. You don’t need the schedule for things to function. People really need to get rid of those primitive beliefs and wrong ideas they have about businesses and how businesses should work, especially from the human side of it. If you want the best quality, the best human resources, you really need to change, innovate, and adapt to the cool, young generation.

What organisations can do

Here are a few things that organisations can do, to avoid and mitigate bullying behaviour.
 

1. Train managers on appropriate ways to deliver constructive feedback. Encourage the mindfulness culture in your company. 
 

2. Ensure that the definition of workplace bullying is understood and communicated to all the employees.

When something is not talked about and discussed openly, it is more often than not ignored. One way you can address workplace bullying in the subtlest yet clearest manner is to send your employees for training that equips them with coping strategies.

For example, the Health Promotion Board of Singapore coordinates Workplace Mental Health Education: The Working Minds Curriculum with trained workshop facilitators who offer workshops for Self-Esteem, Social Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence, Resilience, and Cognitive Efficacy. Coupled with any of the above workshops, request for your choice of facilitator to deliver a segment on Workplace Bullying to bring awareness to this issue.

Bullying can only take place when the people around the bully and the victim choose to turn a blind eye to the sufferings of the victim. Through these workshops, your employees will learn that management is not ignoring these issues, and that it is also the organisation’s way of making a stand on these issues.
 

3. Create an anonymous bullying feedback system or channel where victims or their colleagues may lodge a report without being flagged as a whistle-blower.

For example, create a quarterly assessment that includes these questions:

  • Do you know of any of your colleagues who are suffering from workplace bullying?
  • Have you been a victim of workplace bullying in this organisation?
  • Are you currently a victim of workplace bullying in this organisation?

The above questions help give you an indication of the prevalence of workplace bullying in your organisation. It helps you to identify the possible bullies, and for the organisation to seek professional opinion and intervention.