Put aside the sticks and stones. Words hurt and have meaning. The social media age has allowed hurtful messages to travel faster and to more individuals than ever before, often with ramifications. Harsh comments spoken in the workplace are no longer limited to the watercooler.
Companies are proactively taking charge of workplace bullying, because they realize the consequences can hurt their reputation within both the corporation and in the media.
PR.com reports in a January 2014 article that employees leaving individual companies due to workplace bullying can cost the corporation millions of dollars in revenue each year.
Additionally, a Workplace Bullying Institute survey referenced in the article indicates that around half of employees in the United States have seen or suffered from workplace maltreatment.
Companies must take a sharper stance on these issues to prevent incidents from escalating into even more frequent and alarming statistics.
In Fall 2013, harassment within the Miami Dolphins drew national attention when it was revealed that athlete Jonathan Martin was badgered and bullied by teammate Richie Incognito.
Incognito left a voice message for Martin that included insensitive racial remarks, complete with expletives and threatening language.
Sports analyst Dick Vitale represented just one of many who criticized Incognito via social media.
The Miami Dolphins later suspended Incognito indefinitely.
Joe Philbin, head coach of the Dolphins, said he was “in charge of the workplace atmosphere” and that this type of conduct would not be tolerated.
In this example we see evidence of an entity (Miami Dolphins) taking charge of workplace bullying in full force and making it known that harmful statements should not be allowed.
This video featured by a Fox Washington, D.C. affiliate, later posted by the Bullying Institute on YouTube, further demonstrates the prevalence of present workplace bullying.
Reporter Bob Bernard and his crew were even exposed to bullying while filming the segment, as one bystander said “Fox is fake news.”
The implications of workplace bullying are extreme, leading to stern warnings or even firings. Add negative social media attention and the consequences heighten.
Individuals are not voiceless any longer, they can raise awareness of their troubles. But sometimes taking note of hate speech in the workplace can inspire further hate speech.
Some individuals use Twitter as a platform to criticize others, thus exacerbating the bullying. Harassment is not restricted to a place of employment, but rather extended to the digital realm. The Jerusalem Post recently wrote about how individuals are increasingly holding the haters responsible for their words.
Hate speech can hurt companies’ public relations departments, as they must respond to these spiraling virtual crises of callous language that possess real-world repercussions.
It is vital that individuals use the power of their words, with their brains, to shape smart decisions.
Have you been exposed to workplace bullying? If so, how did you handle the situation? Share your thoughts.