Don't be a bully
In the last Vitals we started on the importance of getting people and ourselves to choose appropriate behaviors at work, more precisely, the importance to share information among personnel to create a unified perception of the reality of the ever-changing risks we endure. However, people in an unfriendly or hostile environment will not openly share information. And to foster information sharing in a workplace, we must eliminate the four "don't be these ways": bad manners, bullying, burnout and blues. This week we will focus on bullying.
Common characteristics of bullying include: rumor spreading, insults, exclusion, unfair treatment, overbearing supervision, unwelcome sexual advances, threatening job security, overloading competent workers, and blocking training opportunities. What about power hierarchy (Doctor> Nurse> Supervisor> Senior Technician> Technician)? Anybody ever pull rank? Bullying is called the "Silent epidemic" and is thought to affect 40% of workers. It is thought to account for half or stress-related workplace illnesses. The saddest reason that bullying is under-reported is the learned tolerance that bullying is a normal part of the culture. There are obvious overlaps between bullying and bad manners. The person who is bullied or treated rudely may experience similar symptoms. Physical symptoms include: sleeplessness, nausea, headaches, palpitations, sweating, loss of appetite, musculoskeletal pain, and lethargy. Where the body leads the mind follows. Emotional symptoms include: anxiety, isolation, loss of confidence, depression, panic attacks, anger, mood swings, lack of motivation, and even suicidal thoughts. Organizations that permit bullying have a culture of abuse rather than a culture of safety. Use the following steps to prevent bullying:
- Look at the organization: Where and how does the bullying occur?
- Create an atmosphere where people can openly raise concerns, before they become a problem.
- Have clear and enforced policies that prevent bullying.
- Make certain that staff members at all levels are adequately trained to recognize and stop bullying.
- Have employee assistance and confidential counseling available.
*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.