Bullying is not just a K through 12 grade issue. Persistent workplace aggression, commonly referred to as workplace bullying, is also happening in our workplaces on a regular and frequent basis. The effect that workplace aggression has on targets is just as serious as bullying in schools, yet it is frequently brushed under the carpet and not acknowledged in the workplace at all.
A proactive approach to persistent workplace aggression includes acknowledging that aggression is in fact happening. Determining that your workplace has issues allows for change to begin. Developing a clear understanding of what is actually happening to the target is important. This includes hearing what the aggressor is doing from the perspectives of the target, bystanders, and even the aggressor. It is important not to overlook the importance of bystanders because they are often key players in recognizing what is really going on in the workplace.
Once a workplace identifies the issues, they can begin to address them. One way of doing this is to develop a solid and clear policy against workplace aggression including a definition and consequences. This policy should clearly outline what the workplace identifies as persistent workplace aggression. A one-size fit all policy is unlikely to be effective. Therefore, each workplace needs to gather information about the type of workplace aggression that is happening and tailor their policy to meet the areas of concern. For example, cyber aggression for one workplace may include misuse of emails and in another workplace it may include misuse of social networks. Every policy should include a zero tolerance clause. To be truly proactive, the organization, most importantly, need to train and encourage workers to use the policy.