There’s been a 13% in reported bullying in the workplace post-pandemic
Twenty-three percent of employees worldwide admit to having experienced workplace bullying – a behavior that goes well beyond the office walls and into the remote work realm. What’s even worse, workplace bullying has been on the rise since the pandemic – there is a 13% increase, in fact, compared to pre-pandemic numbers. The practice also accounts for 23% of resignations in the U.S., further expanding the skill gap in the labor market.
Remote bullying is one of the driving factors in toxic workplace behavior. In contrast to real-time workplace bullying, which might manifest in more recognizable patterns like the assertion of power, intimidation techniques, intruding on colleagues’ privacy, making offensive remarks, or belittling others’ opinions, to name a few, remote bullying might be a more delicate issue.
Diana Blažaitienė, a remote work expert and Founder of Soprana Personnel International, which is a recruitment and personnel rent solutions agency, commented: “One of the crucial aspects of remote bullying is that everyone in the team may be an online bully, it is not limited to higher-ranking colleagues. That is why organizations should create processes that would help everyone in the team – both the potential bully and the victim – to identify certain toxic behaviors in professional setting.”
Staving off remote bullying behaviors
The expert lists certain red flags that hint at remote bullying—exclusion from virtual conversations or activities, constantly increasing workload, and creating a hostile cyber environment through emails and remote work platforms.
“The signs of remote bullying are not always clean-cut and can gradually worsen up to a point when a remote worker feels their work motivation and efficiency are significantly impaired. Setting up boundaries is one of the most essential moments in breaking off remote bullying behaviors,” Ms. Blažaitienė added.
For employers, she suggests establishing clear policies on remote work practices and expectations for employees to prevent unwarranted behavior. Promoting honest and open conversations within the remote teams and implementing regular virtual check-ins also allows staff to nurture trust in the employer. Encouraging remote staff to report any cases of virtual bullying and together navigating how to best respond in such cases ensures the employee that the employer has their back.
“Besides more strict measures like creating anti-bullying guidelines and procedures, team leaders can take more interpersonal approaches like team building activities that prompt deeper connection and understanding between remote staff members,” the remote work expert maintained.
That said, remote workers should check their workplace behavior to create a bullying-free environment. Ms. Blažaitienė suggests always displaying professional conduct towards other colleagues, communicating and delegating tasks with respect, refraining from gossiping or spreading rumors, participating in meetings, exchanging information and resources with all team members, and using professional development and growth opportunities to minimize the outbursts of remote bullying.