Workplace bullying injury is an epic workplace failure. It’s the equivalent of leaving the guard of a piece of machinery, not for a minute or two, but months.
Why? Because by the time you have arrived at the injury awareness point, you have ignored all the sign posts, not just once, but multiple times.
Bullying is a process that leads to injury. This is a fact that too few companies understand. However, if you understand this, you also understand how many opportunities have been missed in preventing the bullying related injury.
It doesn’t start out as bullying. It starts as inappropriate or unreasonable behaviour either overt or covert. It escalates from there.
The bullying process looks like this.
- The bully identifies their target. They start with one incidence of inappropriate behaviour towards their target. The response of embarrassment or humiliation they get makes them feel good.
- The bully wants to continue to feel good. They subject the same target increasingly to negative behaviours. The target passes it off for many reasons including negative consequences and personal shame and embarrassment. The next incident happens a little later, maybe a month. The third a fortnight after that. The forth a week later and so on until, in some cases, it is multiple times a week.
- The target goes on an increasing downward pathway in terms of health. The time they need to recover doesn’t exist and they become increasingly injured.
- The bullying hits crisis point. The target takes sick leave, accesses Workcover or leaves having been pushed out by the bullying behaviour. They are usually suffering an injury. The bully continues in their role, is redeployed or sometimes is pushed out of the company. This alleviates the immediate problem.
- The bully find a new target (in the same or different company). The process starts again.
Australian workplace bullying psychologist, Evelyn Field, states the average bullying episode length is 15 months. That’s 15 months of intervention opportunities. That’s a lot of missed opportunities.
The longer an employee is subject to bullying, the greater the level of injury. On the most serious end, that injury is post traumatic syndrome symptoms and suicidal thoughts and actions.
Bullying prevention is educating your employees at all levels to identify the signs and act early. It’s creating the culture that empowers your employees to act.
It’s too late once it is bullying. The process has begun.
Are your employees able to identify the early warning signs and prevent bullying?
Contact us today for a free, confidential discussion on how we can help you.