Joycelyn Ghansah is a former Healthcare Organizer with a background public health, include reproductive and sexual health. When she's not freelance writing, she's transcribing interviews and researching ways to strengthen healthcare labor laws.
Bullying has become a common concern for healthcare institutions, that many institutions have implemented workplace bullying initiatives. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, bullying comprises of repeated mistreatment from others caused by physical and emotional harm. Bullys often subject to victims to verbal, nonverbal, psychological, physical, or abuse.
Examples of Workplace Bullying
Bullying not only affects job performance, patient care, and recruitment and retention of talented healthcare workers but also has mental and emotional aftereffects. The trauma of toxic workspaces and environments carries deep scares once the individual or group leaves the department or institution. So how can we eradicate bullying in healthcare institutions?
Here are five ways you and your team can combat workplace bullying in healthcare.
Policies often make it difficult to report or define workplace bullying. In an industry like healthcare, the patient’s come first, often workers to find it challenging to speak out because it may interfere with patient care or lack of supportive language.
Bullying in the workplace can affect patient safety and individual wellness. The worker may not focus on patient needs, resulting in a medical error, i.e., bodily harm or death. Bullying also negatively affects mental wellbeing victims. Therefore, institutions must clearly state their stance on workplace bullying.
Often, institutions do not train managers and supervisors on work-related conflicts or bullying behavior. Institutions should develop curriculums and programs that focus on training managers to handle conflict in the workplace.
Remember, managers and supervisors can be bullies (and bullied), so include steps for bystander managers and healthcare workers to identify and deal with supervisors misusing their powers.
Note for healthcare workers: If you feel comfortable talking to your manager about this issue, please do so. You should document that you have spoken with a manager and their response.
Healthcare institutions must take bullying behavior seriously. Leadership can support healthcare workers by hiring consultants or individuals connected to human resources to educate staff and managers to recognize and handle bullying behaviors.
Consultants and healthcare workers can develop scripts and models on bullying and what to do when they encounter or are victims.
The team should be trauma-informed and understand the effects of workplace bullying behaviors. They should assist or guide/redirect healthcare workers to practitioners and resources that may help them.
Documenting the abuse is helpful; it allows you as the bullied or bystander to record the situation. If the bullying is happening through email, make copies of those emails and messages, including date and time. You can also document through journal writing, including time, date, who, what, where, and whether there were people around during the incident. When you are ready, submit the evidence to the human resource or appointed person in charge.
Note: You can seek legal advice on whether your situation constitutes as abuse or harassment, including the next steps.
Your coworkers can be your greatest asset. If you have coworkers that you can trust, communicate with them about the incidents and harassment happening. They can be your support system. If you’d like to confront the bully, having someone there as a witness and support can help you talk while you talk to the bully.
Connecting with a hotline, therapist, or even a supervisor is another way to combat bullying. Not only are you sharing your issue, but these individuals may help you come up with a plan on dealing with the bully’s behavior or cope with the aftereffects of bullying behavior. They can also be witnesses, as they may have documentation that can help you. Bystanders can also use support this time to help themselves and their bullied coworkers.
Note: Do not confront the bully (s) if you do not feel comfortable, mainly when the incidents have occurred multiple times. Do what is right for you in your situation.
Bullying in the workplace, especially in healthcare, can have detrimental effects on patients and healthcare workers. The care and safety of staff are as critical of those they are caring for. Institutions must be able to work together with employees to combat bullying in the workplace. If bullying in healthcare continues, losing talented healthcare workers, as many workers will experience trauma because of a hostile working environment.
Please let us know in the comment section if some of these ways surprised you or suggest ways to combat workplace bullying in healthcare.
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