Bullying isn’t just for playgrounds and locker rooms. When working with clients we frequently break the news, “You have a bullying situation”. It’s always an introspective moment for leaders to realize this ‘childhood’ malady has found it’s way into their community.
Yes, your community, the one with the beautiful lobby and the investors and the improvements you spent millions on and the sterling reputation you have staked your professional career on…
Hold up…is having a bully on your team that big of a deal? Surely one jerk couldn’t impact an organization that much?
You’d be surprised to learn the real cost of bullying. It’s expensive and that one jerk can cause a world of grief.
Directly or indirectly, bullying affects everyone. The victim, the onlookers, the gossipers, the leadership, the residents, the families…everyone.
Workplace bullying can include verbal abuse, intimidation, humiliation and sabotage. And it’s never just a one time event. Bullying is a long term commitment. Bullies invest weeks, months, and years to their craft. They may target their self-esteem annihilating behavior at one person but the toxic spillover effect is felt by all.
The gossips in the break room hashing out who said what to whom are affected.
The resident waiting for her bath while her aide cries in the bathroom is affected.
The family who comes to visit their loved one and observes the sneers and comments is affected.
And then all of these people go on to tell someone else what they saw, heard, and experienced at (insert your organization’s name). And kablooey! There goes your reputation.
A Myriad of Costs
Costs for the victim range from medical and psychological (anxiety, depression, insomnia, self esteem issues) to performance (lack of motivation, low morale, decreased productivity) to financial (missing shifts due to stress, not taking on additional hours, no drive to advance).
Costs for the organization are also many. Reputation is one of the first areas to take a hit. Your good name around town as a wonderful place to work becomes a bit of a joke, then there’s the turnover. Oftentimes, if bullying is not dealt with people just leave! Why bother staying in a hostile environment? You know how this goes… open position, agency costs to fill it temporarily, recruitment costs looking for a replacement… the process drags on for way too long because your reputation is garbage among the ‘great-people-looking-for-a-job-in-the-senior-living’ set … and on and on and on.
Oh wait, we almost forgot the legal costs! Employers CAN be sued for workplace bullying. And while you’re at it, add on the cost to rehabilitate the victim through therapy. (It can be that bad!) All of a sudden the bill for bullying is longer than a CVS receipt!
A Culture of Bullying
Your culture is the worst behavior you are willing to tolerate. If you ‘allow’ bullying to exist in your organization, then you have a bullying culture. And by ‘allowing’ we mean not taking it seriously. You may hear about it, acknowledge it and THINK you have addressed it, but unless you are taking a hard line on bullying you have allowed it to continue.
But honestly when will people just give up on being mean?! The sad truth is some can’t and it’s not your responsibility to keep them employed. When a team member is found to be a bully it’s up to you to call out the behavior, coach them out of the pattern and if the problem persists after your best efforts, then it’s time for them to go.
Senior living is no place for bullies!
Really there is no place for bullies, period! We have to have high standards in this field. Are your recruitment efforts allowing you to take on only the best people? If the answer is yes then you shouldn’t encounter a bullying problem!
So many are drawn to this field because they are compassionate and they care, but unfortunately some find themselves in this field for other reasons.
As a field, we need to raise the bar, hire the best, cultivate great culture and make bullying a thing of the past!
If you have a bullying problem in your organization and you are fed up with the culture crisis, you’re not alone! We’re here to help. Our newest offering, the Comprehensive Culture Analysis, can shine a light on what’s really going on in your organization…more than the whispers in the hall can!