Jul 30, 2020

There is no room for bullying and harassment in a workplace. Employees perform best in a positive and rewarding environment.

Most employees in the United States want to do a good job. They like to feel like they are contributing and earning the salaries they are receiving. That is why it really should not take a lot of work by the supervisors and managers to keep them motivated. However, the environment at work can have a significant impact on the performance of the employees.

Most employees like to see a work environment that is positive and rewarding. On the other hand, if they are constantly being bullied and harassed by their supervisors and managers, it is bound to impact their performance negatively.

It is true that it is the job of supervisors and managers to make sure everyone is performing well and is either meeting or exceeding their expectations. However, if someone is not performing, then yelling and shouting is not the answer. In cases like that, the supervisor/manager needs to work with those specific employees and go through a performance management process, which may include performance improvement plans including possible training and at times change of assignment. But it is never necessary to yell and/or shout at employees even if their performance is not satisfactory.

Some supervisors and managers believe that even for employees who are doing well, it is important to yell and shout to keep them motivated. But that is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Most employees will only become demotivated if there is bullying and harassment at work.

Jul 23, 2020

Adults around children must always put in whatever extra effort necessary to keep children safe from possible risks of child sexual abuse.

Prevention is always a difficult thing because one typically doesn’t see the immediate results of one’s preventive actions. People sometimes get tired of continuously focusing on preventive actions. Once in a while they feel like they are worrying about it too much and they should just relax a bit. That is exactly what we must not do, because you simply cannot and should not take a break when protecting against a serious thing, such as child sexual abuse.

Let’s take the example of what we are all focusing on these days to protect ourselves against a dangerous virus. We are washing hands often, staying at least 6 feet apart and wearing a mask, and staying home as much as possible. We sometimes get tired of taking these measures but we cannot really take a break from these because you never know where the virus is coming from, and as far as possible you really do not want to get infected by this virus.

Protecting children against child sexual abuse takes somewhat similar efforts – a continuous focus on preventive measures at all times. It is especially important since children can’t always protect themselves. Also, we know that a vaccine will probably be available soon to protect us against the virus, and then we can all relax a bit more about the preventive measures. But unfortunately, there is no vaccination available for protection of children from child sexual abuse. That is why we have to continue the hard work.

July 16, 2020

Children of all ages should be exposed more to what mental health professionals do. It is important for them to know that it is not at all abnormal for them to have to deal with a mental health issue and there are excellent professionals who can help.

There is still a lot of stigma in our society about mental illness. And that is what keeps many children quiet when they should be speaking out about the issues they are dealing with and receive appropriate treatment. I have experienced this myself when OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) started for me at the age of sixteen. I kept it all to myself for 5 years, thereby delaying appropriate treatment for 5 years.

Whenever I speak to school students (of various ages) about long term impact of bullying on mental health, I end up talking a lot about what I experienced and what I was dealing with. At the end of my presentations, many children would come up to me and describe their mental health issues to me – things that they had not shared with anyone else. Many would even send emails to me later describing their issues in detail. They do that because, after hearing my presentations, they feel certain that I would understand their issues since I had gone through this myself. That gives them the confidence that I would take their issues seriously and not downplay what they were experiencing.

In most cases I was able to connect them with their school mental health staff (such as school psychologists or social workers) and get them the help they needed. They finally understood that what was happening to them was not abnormal and can certainly be treated. This is why it is important to make sure that all children learn about mental health issues and mental health professionals.

Jul 09. 2020

There are many companies where complaints about workplace bullying and harassment do not receive appropriate attention. All employees should know that there are things employees can do in such situations.

It is absolutely important for all employers to make sure they have adequate well-documented processes and procedures to follow up on complaints from employees about workplace bullying and harassment. If all employees are made aware of these policies and procedures and if the employer does follow up diligently as per the company guidelines, then they will be able to maintain a positive work environment. On the other hand, if the employers either do not have appropriate policies and guidelines or do not follow them when they receive complaints, then the work environment will only become more and more negative.

On the other side, for all employees it is extremely important to maintain detailed documentation of any negative incidents they had to encounter and what they had done about it. If they decided to put in a complaint to the employer, then it is important to keep track of all documentation of what the complaint was about, when was it filed, who received the complaint and what, if anything, happened after the complaint was received by the employer. Documentation of this nature will be very useful if it becomes necessary for the employees to take the matter to an external authority like a state government department or if it goes further and becomes a legal matter. A mentor had advised me about this several years back and I found it to be extremely useful and effective.

Jul 02, 2020

Whenever a person is subjected to sustained maltreatment, it is almost certain to impact the person’s mental health. That is why it is not a surprise that bullying can have long term psychological impact on victims.

Bullying is a form of abuse – and any type of consistent abuse over a sustained period of time can result in mental health impact for victims. In my specific case, my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) was triggered because of bullying I had encountered during my school years. Interestingly it started impacting me significantly after the actual bullying had generally ended. In other words, even though the actual bullying had gradually stopped, my OCD took over as the internal bully and continued the torture. This has had a long term impact on my life.

Children who do the bullying often do not understand what kind of long-term impact their actions can cause for the victims. After many of my presentations at various schools, many “bullies” who attended the presentations, came up to me later and told me that they never knew how much long term impact it can have on victims and that they decided to stop the bullying thereafter. I was delighted to hear this from some of the school bullies and was extremely happy about the impact of my presentation on these young people.

It was also clear to me that many school staff members around the nation are not able to find a way to explain this issue to all children so they will all understand how devastating bullying can be. Children are often thinking of “here and now” – it is important that the school staff take the responsibility to explain to them that their negative behavior can impact someone else for many years to come.

Jun 25, 2020

Employees perform their best in a rewarding and encouraging environment. Bullying and harassment in the workplace by a supervisor or a manager is never a good approach for sustained positive results.

A lot of managers and/or supervisors have this misconception that the only way to get employees to work hard and produce results is to control them with bullying and harassment. They may have some success with a few employees, but for a vast majority of employees this approach simply does not work. Making employees feel bad about themselves do not typically make them work harder or make them more productive.

All employees are aware that they get paid because of the work they do. It is not difficult for them to understand that if their performance is not satisfactory, there may be some consequences. It is the job of a manager to help each employee reach his or her potential through an appropriate supportive approach. It is important to have frequent communications with the employees so the manager can truly understand the problems faced by the different employees and then provide appropriate assistance so the employees can succeed. There can always be a few employees who simply do not want to work hard and perform well. But most employees want to do a good job and want to succeed for the company they are working for. If the managers can help them in a supportive manner (rather than in an abusive manner) most employees will succeed and that will only make the company more successful.

Jun 18, 2020

Many schools around the country have started educating all students about the role of bystanders in prevention of bullying. This is an extremely important program that should be implemented by all schools.

Bystanders can play a significant role either in promoting bullying or in preventing bullying. In my own situation, one of the worst bullies had described to me (later in adulthood) that he was not getting the support and recognition within the school community that he would have liked. So he turned to bullying because he noticed that people laughed and encouraged his actions, thereby improving his self-esteem, and he felt that he then had a recognized place in the school community. He was then known for “something” instead of just another insignificant kid in the school community.

This revealing discussion clearly indicates the significant role a bystander can have in encouraging bullying. In fact, even if the bystander does not laugh or visibly encourage the actions, just by being there and witnessing it and not saying anything causes the bully to continue his/her irresponsible behavior. Of course it would be best if a bystander can step in and try to prevent the negative behavior – but as a minimum a bystander must not laugh or encourage the actions and should simply go away from the area and report it to the school authorities.

The overall impact of bullying will not be as serious if the bystanders do not encourage the actions of the bully. That is why it is so important for all school children to learn that bystanders do play a significant role in prevention of bullying.

Jun 11, 2020

If a company does not do anything to appropriately investigate and follow through on complaints of bullying and harassment at the workplace, then it is creating a negative work environment that can be harmful to the company in many different ways.

If an employee complains about one or more incidents of workplace bullying and harassment, and the company does not do any kind of honest investigation or follow through, then they will have an unhappy employee, and that is how a negative work environment starts to develop.  With one or more unhappy employees productivity eventually suffers and that can impact the company negatively.

The company can of course choose to terminate the employee who had put in the complaint. But then again, a sudden departure of an employee is not a morale booster. Also, word will be out that the employee was fired because of the complaints he or she had made regarding bullying and harassment in the workplace. That can also tarnish the reputation of the company.

In addition the company may have to face a wrongful termination lawsuit, which could be expensive for the company. It is true that companies can terminate any employees at will, without having to give any reasons for why the employee was terminated. But if there is documentation available showing the history of complaints followed by lack of any reasonable actions by the company, then there is a reasonable chance that the company might lose the lawsuit. That is exactly what happened in my case that I describe in my book “How to stand up to workplace bullying and take on an unjust employer.” I fought back against the company after being terminated and won my case.

Jun 04, 2020

After speaking with many people across the country I am of the opinion that being bullied on a consistent basis causes mental health issues for most victims. Some lucky ones might be able to get away with minimal impact, but many others suffer long lasting impact.

It is clear that bullying has a significant impact on the psyche of a person. It consistently attacks the self-image of the victim. The bully exerts control over the victim and makes him/her feel terrible about themselves. On top of that, quite often, there are bystanders who laugh at these incidents, providing more fuel to the fire. When bystanders either laugh and encourage or don’t do anything at all, the bullies feel supported and continue their bad behavior.

In situations like these, the victims badly need support from school officials who are typically right there at the schools when the bullying takes place. The victims need support right then and there. School officials must intervene and find a way to stop the bullying as soon as possible. And then, the school officials must provide support to the victims so they are not left alone to face the impact of these incidents all by themselves. If school mental health staff (such as psychologists and social workers) can work with the victims at times like these, then it is possible that the eventual mental health impact on the victims will not be as severe.

School officials must also work with the bullies to help them address their own issues and get them to discontinue their bullying behavior. Quite often, bullies have their own issues at home that play out with them acting out as bullies at schools. If they too get appropriate and timely help, schools can eventually eliminate bullying.

 

May 28, 2020

No organizations should be allowed to ignore complaints of workplace bullying by any employees. Each and every complaint must be investigated thoroughly and an appropriate plan of action must be implemented.

It is extremely important for an organization to maintain a serious approach when dealing with bullying or harassment in the workplace. A company needs to make it clear to all its employees that workplace bullying and/or harassment will not be tolerated. And then, it needs to set up a written and published policy about how complaints of this nature will be handled. This policy should specify how each and every complaint will be investigated and how the results of the investigation will be communicated and acted upon.

For example, if an employee puts in a complaint of bullying/harassment in the workplace, it will then be very important for the company to conduct a thorough investigation, as per the company policy, and then communicate and take appropriate actions. It might turn out that the complaint was simply a misunderstanding – but even then it is important for the company to maintain appropriate records and communicate with the individuals concerned. In case it turns out to be a valid complaint, then an action plan needs to be established and communicated to the appropriate individuals. The resulting plans may include various levels of actions such as improved communication plans, better training, reassignment of individuals, etc, or even disciplinary actions if appropriate.

The bottom line is that if a company (small or large) has a well-established process and follows through appropriately, then it will likely have a satisfied set of employees and consequently better overall performance.

 

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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