If you want to be more innovative and attract good talent, you need to face the issue of abuse in the workplace. No one can possibly be at their best and most creative when they feel vulnerable, humiliated, intimidated, isolated and helpless!
Workplace bullying (including emotional abuse, harassment, and work-related violence) “costs Australian employers between $6 – $36 billion dollars [annually]” according to The Australian Human Rights Commission.
The Orlando Business Journal reported workplace bullying as costing “more than $180 million in lost time and productivity” over the two year period of a survey.
The personal cost to mental wellbeing and self esteem can be significant. It can trigger depression and thoughts of suicide. Just as businesses have a mandate to provide a physically safe environment, they too must provide a safe psychological environment.
Abuse can be a hidden problem. Business has a history of pretending to be an emotionless activity, where mental health is even more of a taboo topic than out in the community. As with domestic violence, abuse at work is often dismissed or minimised.
In some industries, abusive behaviour is normalised and sanctioned, and used as a badge of honour. The sociopathic nature of business can attract people with personality disorders that make them more likely to become abusers.
Even though abuse could happen to anyone, sufferers may not always be aware that they are the target of abuse.
For those who do suspect abuse, many also keep quiet for the sake of their job security, especially when there is a power imbalance in the abusive relationship.
There is no single, sure-fire way to determine whether abuse is occurring in your business. Sudden and marked changes in behaviour can be important indicators – such as increased absenteeism and complaints, relationship breakdowns, withdrawal, isolation and plummeting morale.
The cycle of abuse is well documented and leaders who give a damn should be aware of the signs and patterns. See my version of the Cycle of Abuse in the resources section.
Everyone has the right to NOT experience bullying and abuse.