Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t stop when you leave school. Some individuals simply don’t outgrow this behavior and they can bring it into the workplace where it becomes an extremely disruptive force. Bullying can take on many appearances and it may at first even seem like joking around or sarcasm. However, behavior that makes other employees uncomfortable is never appropriate. UK researchers found that 8 in 10 managers admitted there was bullying in their workplaces.

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What is workplace bullying?
According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, workplace bullying is any repeated behavior directed toward one or more employees with the intent of making them feel intimidated or humiliated. This type of behavior could lead to physically unsafe environments. Bullying often stems from an abuse of power and at its worst, it can become institutionalized – a part of the company’s culture. Bullying is such a large problem in the US that some 15 million employees reported feeling psychologically harassed on a weekly basis, according to the department.

Signs of bullying at work
One aspect of workplace bullying is that the victims often don’t realize they are being bullied until it’s too late, that is, until they’ve experienced some heavy psychological issue as a result of being bullied. There are several signs that employees can watch out for, though some are more subtle than others. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, signs appear both at work and outside of the office. For example, bullying at work might occur as something seemingly innocuous such as coworkers not speaking to another employee. Just because it isn’t overtly aggressive doesn’t mean it’s not damaging to the victim’s psyche.

An HR outsourcing service can often assess the culture of a business and discover if aggressive behaviors are entrenched within the everyday attitudes of managers and employees. Workplace bullying may have become a part of the feedback process, for instance. Criticism has its place at the office, but when it becomes harsh and unwarranted it becomes bullying. Likewise, if the effects of this behavior follow employees home, causing them to feel depressed or anxious outside of work, chances are they’ve experienced bullying in the workplace.

Learning the early signs of bullying is key to creating a safe working environment. Stopping harassment before it goes too far can prevent unfortunate psychological repercussions as well as costly lawsuits.