Managing Bullying and Toxic Work Environments 

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Defined as the use of superior strength to intimidate others, bullying is a growing problem seen almost everywhere. From schools and universities to the neighborhood and within the community, bullying is likewise present in office environments. Just like a toxic work atmosphere, bullying creates a feeling of negativity and anxiety that often leads to reduced productivity, absenteeism, and even increases liability risks.

If not addressed properly and immediately, this type of unfavorable corporate culture may lead to legal claims, financial troubles, decreased efficiency, frequent friction, and, worst of all your, the best talent walking away due to unhealthy working conditions.

Creating a culture of respect amongst employees is essential for the success and longevity of your business. A team of cohesive people will do wonders in promoting and uplifting the spirit and camaraderie of your company. Here are some helpful tips on how to create a corporate culture that will make your employees happy and cooperative, while cleansing away all the toxicity from the work environment.

1. Establish a workplace code of conduct

While there will always be employees who display aggressive behavior towards others, this can be prevented in your business by implementing a policy on bullying in the office. By defining what is appropriate and acceptable behavior, this creates a healthy atmosphere for everybody. Additionally, by setting rules, one can avoid the negative repercussions of bullying such as retaliation that can only worsen the situation.

Creating a corporate culture is also achievable through the use of an employee handbook or code of conduct. Many businesses require employees to sign a receipt of this document, which explains the policies and potential consequences for violating any efforts to promote team building. Some other things that you could do are as follows:

  • Clearly define what is bullying and state all consequences in a detailed manner.
  • Make sure that everything is in writing to protect your business from any liabilities.
  • Encourage workers to report cases of bullying and speak up right after the incident.

2. Make job descriptions clear to reduce conflicts

Regardless of industry and company size, employees have certain responsibilities to follow. But when the uncertainty of roles – who reports to who and who is responsible for what – arises, this can cause major issues in the office. When there is confusion over roles or there is an undefined area that needs leadership, the situation often results in aggressive behavior, causing a frenzied environment.

Often used when hiring people, job descriptions are no stranger to both big and small companies. While it’s easy to create one, falling short on the essentials of the content is a common problem. Job descriptions should be written in an exact, clear, and precise manner to avoid confusion of roles.

  • Use clear and detailed job titles; steer clear of vague terms and confusing tasks.
  • Responsibilities and specific duties should be described in a short, jargon-free layout.
  • Be upfront with working hours, rest periods, sanctions, and direct superiors or managers.

3. Establish an open-door policy

Issues and problems don’t happen overnight, there’s always a starting point that, if not addressed right away, can cause bigger problems. Imagine the following: someone steals your lunch from the pantry every day for two weeks straight, causing you additional expenses at the office. This might be a joke to some, but it can cause emotional suffering to a financially challenged employee.

Resentful workers, missed deadlines, unhealthy group discussions, and apathy can drag your business down. Having an open-door policy allows easy communication between you and your employees. Many companies use this to encourage healthy conversation, discussion of certain things that matter, and critical feedback that needs immediate attention. The following are guidelines on how to create corporate culture through an open-door policy:

  • Set a comfortable time where your employees can freely talk to you about their concerns.
  • Develop employee trust by being fair while still reinforcing the roles of respective managers.
  • Be clear to all employees that exercising this right will not result in retaliation from immediate supervisors.

4. Be the example to lead others

Walk the talk – while it sounds cliché, this is imperative if you want to develop a healthy company culture. Sometimes a toxic work environment is a reflection of how you manage and handle people. You might not notice it but in your role as manager, you actually set the tone in the office by giving visual and verbal cues. Showing that you’re having a bad day and taking it out on someone might be seen as “acceptable” behavior, or bullying a coworker might be interpreted as the norm.

As the head of the company, you need to treat your team with the utmost respect and diligence. You need to be the role model for everyone by showing an appropriate attitude and working behavior. Find a way to professionally communicate with your people and start building a culture that is viable for everyone.

  • Whatever is going on, don’t invoke negative emotions as this will only cause undesirable feelings.
  • Ditch the authoritarian, military-style management; instead, use non-combative leadership.
  • Improve work morale by letting employees speak-up and practice positive reinforcement.
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5. Protect your business with Employment Practices Coverage

Even the most protective and careful companies with a strong culture of a positive workplace can be subjected to liabilities. Win or lose, exposing yourself to lawsuits and financial obligations can hurt the growth, performance, and stability of your company. No matter how cautious you are, there will always be instances where having solid protection is all you need to prevent risks associated with employee management.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) provides protection against employment-related lawsuits such as wrongful termination, harassment, breach of contract, discrimination, retaliation, and much more. This policy reimburses your company for all costs and expenses incurred while defending your business. It offers coverage for:

  • Wrongful termination – if an employee’s termination is caused by a breach in employment law.
  • Sexual misconduct – unwanted sexual advances, harassment, or obscene actions toward workers.
  • Character defamation – a false statement that is written or spoken with the intent to damage one’s reputation.
  • Discrimination – unfavorable treatment of an employee due to sex, religion, age, race, economic status, or disability.
  • Invasion of privacy – invasion of an employee’s private space through unreasonable searches.

Get now a free, no-obligation quote and protect your business.