Workplace bullying can lead to job insecurity. This fact probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many of you. However, what happens when you add to the mix a passive and inactive (or laissez-faire) leadership approach. Does this increase both job insecurity and bullying risk?

A 2018 research paper of 2500 employees over two years explored that very question and came back in the affirmative. Workplace bullying was shown to lead to job insecurity; while a laissez-faire leadership approach increased both bullying and job insecurity.

Why does laissez-faire leadership have this effect?

Laissez-faire leadership approaches may lead to workplace bullying and job insecurity for a number of reasons. It might indicate that the leader supports the user of the bullying behaviour. It might be that s/he believes that target is the over-reacting or being hysterical or is the problem. It may also be that the leader thinks that the targeted employee might be inept at their job and needs a push out the door.

On another note, it might be indicative of how complex bullying can be and how ill-equipped that leader might be to deal with bullying. Other leaders may be delayed seeking out the required knowledge delaying the corresponding action.

Whatever that reason may be, the lack of leadership action increases the level of job insecurity.

What are the implications for our management of workplace bullying?

If anything, this gives us something of a chicken and the egg cycle. If employees know or, at the very least, fear losing their job if they report workplace bullying, then they are unlikely to report it. Let’s face it, the reality of the world in which we walk means that we need income to not only survived, but thrive.

The lack of reporting will keep the safety risk to that individual employee and your company underground resulting in unmitigated risk. In this unspoken environment, further inappropriate behaviours and bullying can thrive.

To counter this and create a safe workplace, your company needs to ensure that employees are safe to report inappropriate behaviour and, if desired, lodge grievances without negative consequences. This creates a climate of safety and trust.

However, it also tells us that, at times of inappropriate behaviours and bullying, laissez-faire leadership is not the right approach. It simply contributes to increased bullying and associated workplace injury risk.

It is vital that your company leaders know how to respond to workplace bullying and act on it in a timely manner. They need to be upskilled to manage the situation and mitigate the risk.

Is it important to you that your leaders know when and how to prevent and manage your workplace bullying?

Contact us today for a free, confidential discussion.