Guest blog article by Angela Monaghan [Ontario, Canada] – Advocate, Educator, & Counsellor addressing bullying issues. Founder of On T.R.A.C. for BULLYING PREVENTION, a not-for-profit organization promoting education, awareness, healing, and an empowered society that won’t let bullying thrive. Angela co-founded the International Educational Coalition on Workplace Bullying.
Short-sighted Business Trend
There’s been a disturbing two-fold trend in workplace bullying. In short, employers are mistreating particular employees as a way to encourage these employees to quit and serving as an example to others to `tow the line, do more with and for less, shut up and put up or this will happen to you`. The targeted employee becomes the example to others who desire to keep their jobs in an unsettled economic climate. Since bullying is all about control it`s a way management gains the upper hand. Unfortunately, this `upper hand` is NOT the healthy control resulting from a hierarchy. Rather, this is the unhealthy control based on fear and it promotes the bullying culture in an environment.
The targeted employee is NOT necessarily incompetent. Typically they are very good at their jobs and have proven their competency over several years of exemplary, dedicated service. These years have resulted in a valuable expertise for the employer and increased wages for the employee. Unfortunately, economic fears seem to be causing some employers to assume that meaner business practices in leaner times results in success. This is not necessarily the case. Unethical business practices are a short-term solution that has long-term consequences. It is short-sighted of an employer to bend ethics. No matter what the company business is, its reputation is always paramount. A company’s reputation is more important than its products or prices. I don’t shop at a particular department store because of their business practices, and this helps me not be fooled by their advertising claiming to have great prices. Their prices are a result of their lack of ethics. And the odd, usually highly publicized, philanthropic antics tend to have little to do with genuine care and more to do with garnishing public sympathy. Reputation is essential to genuine, long-lasting success.
The bullying tactics designed to drive out seasoned (well-paid employees) is short-sighted. Although it is being brushed off as ‘nothing personal, just business’, it becomes an attitude that permeates throughout the organization and ends up filtering into the greater society. For example, Let`s say Peter has served his employer well for 15 years. He is loyal and productive, and because he and his colleagues have been treated ethically he treats colleagues ethically and speaks positively of the company (which improves the company`s reputation, resulting increased business). Then economic times get leaner and the company looks to reduce costs in order to increase profits. It becomes a business practice to make the work environment uncomfortable for seasoned, higher paid employees, encouraging them to voluntarily quit, leaving a vacancy for a new, cheaper employee. Peter becomes targeted. He is now unable to speak positively about the company (diminishing the company`s reputation, resulting in decreased business). His productivity decreases. Other colleagues witness how he is being treated and a mistrustful atmosphere is created. In this environment, collegiality decreases, productivity decreases, and employee illness and pilfering increase. A lack of loyalty is created. Peter is bullied out of his job. While it all appears on the surface that the company has gained, it is short-sighted. Peter now has to find a new job and Peter`s old job has to be filled. Peter now takes his underlying mistrust of employers and business practices into his new workplace. He is not as willing to volunteer, to be as loyal, or to give 100% effort. This can potentially negatively impact his future workplace. Now consider Peter`s replacement. When bullying in the workplace is viewed as `nothing personal, just business` the likelihood that new employees have been bullied by their former employer increases, thus spreading around the bullying mentality. When an employer uses bullying tactics the employer will lose in the long run. Bullying is not only unnecessary cruelty. It is a short-sighted, poor economic decision for employers. And it IS personal. We enter an inhumane realm when we lose sight of the `personal.` It is economically prudent to always keep the `personal` at the forefront of business decisions. After all, no matter the business, people are always the end customers and a company`s most valuable resource.