8 Subtle Signs of Bullying in the Workplace

Posted on

November 11th, 2019


Absenteeism is a significant cause for concern among employers in all industries. If employees call out of work abruptly on a regular basis, it can cause considerable disruption to productivity and morale as well as hurt businesses’ bottom line. However, there are often underlying causes for absenteeism and one of the most common is bullying.

While bullying on the schoolyard is often easy to identify, adults don’t resort to pushing, name-calling, and other child-like methods of pushing people around. In the workplace, bullying looks quite different and employers need to keep an eye out for it if they suspect employee mistreatment is triggering unplanned absence.

The following are some behaviors and patterns that may indicate a company has an office bully:

  1. Intimidation. It’s management’s job to keep employees on task and on schedule, but there is a difference between encouragement and using overt or veiled threats to accomplish the job.
  2. Ignoring. This can manifest as failing to greet certain individuals while interacting with everyone around them or as purposefully “forgetting” to invite them to relevant meetings.
  3. Undermining work. This often occurs when management or a fellow employee prevent another individual from progressing on a project or impeding his or her ability to succeed. This can also manifest as giving away promised projects to other team members.
  4. Taking away responsibilities. When employees are overwhelmed with too much work, it’s not uncommon to redistribute some of their less important tasks. However, forcibly removing primary work from an employee without cause is often a form of bullying.
  5. Impossible or shifting deadlines. This is the reverse of the above. Oppressive managers or supervisors set the employee up to fail by assigning too many tasks on an unreasonable timetable or change priorities without notice.
  6. Extreme criticism. Impossible to please team leaders, supervisors, or managers are often workplace bullies. They fail to recognize a job well done in favor of pointing out flaws, real or perceived.
  7. Taking credit. This is usually seen in superiors that take complete credit for their subordinates’ ideas or work without offering any recognition.
  8. Over the top flattery. While this may seem pleasant at first, it’s often a tactic to soften employees to manipulation. A boss who is always crowing an individual’s praises may be preparing to ask for excessive and unreasonable requests of that employee.

Bullying behavior is rarely overt so employers need to be vigilant and implement policies to allow for confidential reporting as well as establish clear guidelines for conduct in the workplace. If you’re concerned about absenteeism, implementing an absence reporting program can help identify trends. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how we can reduce absenteeism in your workplace.