Bully in the Workplace


Albert Einstein once said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”  

As Owners, Managers, Supervisors, and HR personnel, we have an obligation to provide a safe working environment. Bullying has become a popular and sometimes overused buzz word, but lets take a look at bullying in the workplace and it’s very serious implications. 

Workplace bullying can have negative effects on employees such as increased stress, absenteeism, lowered morale, anxiety, high blood pressure and insomnia to name a few.  All of this can ultimately hit a companys bottom line causing high turnover, low productivity, difficulty hiring, and even legal trouble.

You probably thought bullying stopped once you graduated high school. unfortunately, studies are showing bullying is moving from the fourth grade to 40+-year-olds.  Most people would agree work can be stressful enough, but adding a bully to the mix can make it unbearable.  According to a study performed by the U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, 28.7 million U.S. managers and employees witness bullying in the workplace on an on-going basis.

Bullying is a repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally, and with the purpose of gaining power over the person being targeted. Given the statistics, you may have a workplace bully.

Here are the top four signs of a bully in the workplace:

  1. The Screamer.  Perhaps the most easily recognizable type of workplace bully the Screamer can be loud and intolerable.  This bully tends to get a rise out of humiliating others and enjoys feeling others are scared of them.
  2. The Backstabber.  An employee who will say one thing to one co-worker only to turn around and turn on them any chance they get.  The Backstabber could easily take credit for anothers work since loyalty is not their strong suit.
  3. The Critic. This bullying personality can attack anothers confidence by constant criticism over work performance. The Critic will kill another employees credibility by pointing out any flaw, even if takes falsifying documents or creating evidence to make someone look bad.
  4. The Silent Bully. This personality is usually an instigator who starts conflict with other employees and walks away to see how it will unfold. This bully likes to exploit others and enjoys chaos in the workplace. The Silent Bully is passive aggressive in nature, such as pouting, stubbornness, procrastination, inefficiency, and passive obstructionism.

Additional traits a bully may display:  Charming, obsessed with image, distorts truth and reality, evasive, plays the victim, self-righteous, pompous, hypocritical, two-faced, rumor-monger, passive-aggressive and can pretend to care.

Now what to do after realizing your organization may have a bully?

  • Do not ignore the behaviors. Its best to be firm and direct with these employees and do it without being rude or condescending.
  • Revisit your Handbook and verify it clearly defines bullying and/or harassment. You should also be in compliance with the New April 1, 2016 Regulation on Harassment and Bullying by now. If not, call us!
  • Communicate to all employees regarding guidance and/or training on how to report bullying.  Employees should know how to make a complaint and understand a complaint may be made without any retaliation. Your handbook should have your complaint process clearly defined. If not, call us!
  • Confront a bully? This is the best time to call SDHR Consulting for guidance to understand if this really is bullying, who should talk to the employee, how and what to say, how to document and progressive discipline steps if the behavior does not stop.

Dont be caught with a bully in your workplace…… Contact SDHR Consulting for help!