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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Spencer

Respect, What’s the Big Deal?

Do you as a Leader want Engaged Employees? (Part 2)

Executives from every company surveyed desire to hire and keep good quality employees. People need to feel that they are of value. Once an employee feels valued, then they will become more engaged and positive, and turnover for the company will decrease. So ask why are people leaving their employment? Is it for a better career path leading to what gets perceived as more fulfillment? Or could it be the employee is miserable in the current work culture because they feel threatened, bullied, undervalued, humiliated, or are dealing with verbal or physical threats jeopardizing their safety?

When a person disrespects another coworker, they are generally not intentional acts to cause harm and, once recognized, are typically followed up with an apology. We are focusing on the intentional acts of disrespect where one person intends harm to another, whether emotional or physical. These actions can stem from an array of emotional instability or insecurity from the one producing the intentional disrespect, also known as workplace bullying.

Statistics in the Workplace:

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 30% of Americans get bullied at work. There are 76.3 million employees affected by workplace bullying. Even people that work from home are not immune to workplace bullying; 43% of remote employees get bulled. When employees experience bullying, approximately 60% of the time, the action comes from a supervisor or boss.

Bullying Actions Appear to Coworkers as:

Now that we know approximately how often bullying occurs, what does bullying look like through actions?

* Embarrassing coworkers

* Criticizing others

* Intimidating others (either by words or actions)

* Threatening others

* Stealing a coworker's idea as your own or their work and taking credit

* Standing/Towering in someone's personal space

* Excluding others

* Sabotage is spreading lies or gossip about a person intending to hurt a persons reputation

* Insults in any form (passive, subtle, or aggresive)

* Emotional abuse an example, can look like harsh criticism of a coworker or employee

* Staring inappropriately at a coworker

* Humiliating others by targeting jokes or mocking a coworker or coworkers, verbally attaching an employee performing a specific task that belittles the employee is performing the tasks.

* Exhibiting aggressive behaviors towards colleagues

* A manager's retaliation is designed to intimate an employee for any reason, even pressuring a coworker to work overtime.

* Managers present harsh criticism during performance reviews or reviewing a project throughout the project's development.

The list above is not a complete picture of what bullying can look like in the workplace. Bullying is an action that shows blatant disrespect to a person in purposeful, deliberate action versus general disrespect, which is usually accidental and followed up by an apology.

Why Does Bullying Matter?

Workplace bullying costs are high, resulting in loss of productivity, rising healthcare costs, absenteeism, employee turnover, and business reputation damage.


Do you get tired of training an employee, pouring out time, effort, and energy into them only to have them leave your employment within a year or two? In the exit surveys, will that employee feel secure enough to speak of the real reason they are leaving, or will they give a generic answer of something to the effect that they have a better opportunity, pay, or more flexibility with their schedule? Has the company's leadership been analyzed to understand how the top-down approach affects the work culture?

Different Approaches to Address Workplace Bullying?

The Human Resource Manager can play a crucial role in analyzing the workplace environment if they are not participating in workplace bullying. More often than not, they are a great resource and a great place to start developing a strategic plan to address a hostile workplace environment. Another alternative is to review the workplace harassment policy to see if there need any updates.

Companies could create an anonymous survey and ask employees to fill it out. Doing it would be great, but the employees must trust full autonomy and not fear retribution. Companies could create mentorship programs designed to cross-train and promote healthy environments. There are a number of creative things that could get implemented to develop and grow a positive, engaging work culture. However, whatever you choose to implement must be thought out and completely designed with a purpose. Accountability must be in place to measure progress in creating a positive work environment.

The Goal

The desire and goal of every company are to create profit, carry a good reputation and encourage and maintain employee engagement. These goals do not happen by accident or by circumstance. Instead, executives realize to make positive work culture changes, it takes a systemic approach, with awareness, involvement, planning, and a realistic approach to understanding the present work culture.

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