October is Bullying Awareness Month

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By Dr. Sabrina Brandon Ricks, SBR Workplace Leadership Services

Did you know that one in three working Americans is bullied at work?  Did you know that October is Bullying Awareness Month?  Did you know that October is also Suicide Prevention Month?

There is a correlation between the two phenomena. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, workplace bullying is repeated mistreatment that includes verbal abuse and creates a hostile environment for an employee or employees. Unfortunately, as individuals are mistreated at work, there is a higher chance of them retaliating and harming co-workers and supervisors and/or harming themselves.  There are ways to improve the workplace and lower the risk of bullying, retaliation, suicide, and other negative behaviors.  The following five tips should be implemented in organizations across the country to address and prevent these issues:

Showing Employees Appreciation

It is too often assumed that all employees are motivated by money – and this is a false assumption.  There are many motivators for employees, including flex time, time off, competitions and prizes, tickets to sports games, a high five, extra help on specific work tasks (e.g., an intern), and more.  According to Dr. Gary Chapman, who designed the model for the five love languages, there are five languages of appreciation as well including acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, tangible gifts, and physical touch.  Dr. Paul White further elaborates the point that you cannot take a guess at what each individual employee will want and as a manager, you may never know unless you ask, which leads to tip #2…

Asking Questions

Although no one is required to become best of friends as employees, it is still helpful to get to know one another a bit in order to gauge likes and dislikes, favorite foods, the ambience desired in the workplace, who works better in the morning versus the afternoon, and how employees like to be appreciated.  One may also ask about what help an employee needs in order to complete required tasks.  There are times an employee may be nervous about sharing that they do not know something or need help. A gentle question asking what they need may open the door to express true feelings that will help an employee improve in the workplace.  In order to hear those true feelings, one must move to tip #3…


It is of the utmost importance to listen to what your employees want, need, and ask.  Again, nothing can be assumed.  Organizations need to offer employee opinion surveys and interview their employees to determine how the organization can improve its culture, improve employee performance, improve retention, and improve overall results and customer service. Improvements will not occur if the upper echelon of the organization refuses to listen.  There will be a constant battle on how to progress, how to grow, and how to connect the team, which leads to tip #4…

Building a Team

It is the responsibility of leadership and management to ensure the team is connected regardless of the size of the department or the organization.  After asking the right questions, listening, determining preferences, and caring, building the team is next.  Management has to dedicate time to allowing the team to mold and meld into a well oiled machine that functions together cohesively to meet the organization’s goals and objectives.  There are many team building activities and consultants that facilitate team building opportunities.  Finally, team building will improve the diversity, equity, and inclusion in the organization which is tip #5…

Improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Efforts

The acknowledgment of diversifying the workplace, ensuring all employees are heard and have the resources needed to be successful at their roles, and confirming employees feel included are all a part of the DEI pyramid.  Starting with a diverse team that represents the community you work and live in is the base of the pyramid.  Although every employee may not start at the same place, the organization is responsible for providing the resources to ensure employees have what they need to succeed.

For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires reasonable accommodations for employers with a minimum number of employees to ensure one can answer the telephone, converse, and more.  Finally, the top tier of the pyramid is ensuring all employees, no matter what background, tenure with the company, and likes or dislikes, feel welcomed in the company and comfortable partaking in company activities whether during work hours or off.

All five tips are instrumental to the success of organizations regardless of the industry.  If an organization is suffering in one area or more, there is assistance. Contact SBR Workplace Leadership Services to learn more, to train your group, for executive coaching, employee engagement surveys, curriculum design, train-the-trainer, and completing educational workshops.


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