Last Friday (17th May) was ‘Pink Shirt Day’ in NZ. It’s a day which is designed to bring awareness to bullying in schools and workplaces.⠀
A lot of people wore pink shirts. Lots of people started discussions on social media and in workplaces around the country… YAY! Well, kinda…⠀
You see, it’s not enough to be ‘aware‘ of bullying, it’s not even enough to call it out when you see it. Bullying is not just a cause of problems, it’s a symptom of them.⠀
Hurt people hurt people. ⠀
More often than not the people doing the bullying are hurt people. To be clear, this does not excuse their behaviour but it does mean that if you want it to stop you have to address the root of the problem.⠀
Some people may think that it’s too much to ask for schools and workplaces to address the actual cause of bullying and help those hurt people, it’s not.⠀
Schools are slightly out of our control, they are inheriting a societal problem that needs to be tackled on multiple fronts with a lot more cash and resources.⠀
But businesses are a little different. It is 100% in the best interest of the business to deal with the trauma of the employee that is manifesting itself in the act of bullying.⠀
(Side note: Bullying behaviour is not always visible and pervasive enough to want to, or be able to, fire someone, therefore if you don’t see it and address it then it will cost your business in the long run.)⠀
We need to be looking inside our workplaces and encouraging and helping all employees to deal with their hurt. This can take shape in many ways such as; EAP programs offering free counselling, getting someone like me in to spark personal change and growth or having a top-down example of honesty and transparency around personal growth.⠀
The awareness still needs to be there, we still need to be calling out bullying behaviour when we see it, but, we really need to be addressing the core cause, hurt people.⠀
Good news for businesses is that if you do that, you will see an increase in staff retention, efficiency, effectiveness, productivity as well as a reduction of sick days and interpersonal issues with employees and customers.⠀
And guess what that means? You create an amazing environment for your people to work in, attract better candidates for future roles and make a lot more profit.
Sounds like a win win to me.