Isolating worker IS bullying

June 22, 2014
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , — jonimar @ 1:56 pm

Q I’ve hired a new employee and I am observing the five existing team members excluding him and talking about him behind his back. How should I handle it?

A: Ignoring a co-worker with the intent to harm or control, treating them differently than other peers and co-workers, or ostracism, isolation, dissociation or exclusion from others is workplace bullying.

Every employee deserves a respectful workplace and it is the organization’s responsibility to ensure it. If bullying is occurring, do not make excuses for it. Bullying is not something that an employee should be left alone to address.

Leaders either create or eradicate a bullying culture by how they behave and what they accept in the workplace. Do not ignore, condone, permit or contribute to any form of exclusion of any employee. Put a stop to any subtle signs of exclusion immediately.

Not acting sends the message that the behaviour is endorsed.  Toxic behaviour will grow to eventually subvert the workplace if staff sees there are no consequences. Workplace bullying destroys teams, collaboration, willingness to contribute and increases turnover.

Some steps to diffuse a toxic work environment :

  • Calling a staff meeting to educate everyone about what is considered bullying, how to respond to potential bullying behaviours and whom they can go to for help.
  • Acting swiftly and firmly. Insisting everyone at the workplace act respectfully and professionally to all staff, suppliers and customers.
  • While you may have a code of conduct, establish a written respectful workplace/anti-bullying policy that outlines acceptable and prohibited behaviours – including consequences, remediation and possible disciplinary action for violations.

The most important indicator of a successful workplace prevention program is management’s commitment. For tips on how to set up your policy go to or seek the help of an HR professional.

Reprinted from The Province, June 22, 2014.


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