Bullying in the workplace: Enhancing inclusion and communication - Oak Engage
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Bullying in the workplace: 7 ways to enhance inclusion through effective communication

   Minute Read     Employee Engagement

Bullying in the workplace: 7 ways to enhance inclusion through effective communication
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    Workplace bullying is an unsettling issue that plagues many businesses, creating a hostile environment that fosters stress, hinders productivity, and ultimately leads to a high employee turnover rate. However, through the development of an inclusive atmosphere and effective communication, it’s possible to curb bullying and create a nurturing and engaging workplace for everyone. 

    In this blog, we’ll explore seven strategies to counter workplace bullying and foster inclusion through effective communication.

    Understanding workplace bullying 

    Workplace bullying takes various forms, from aggressive behaviour to  harassment and even more subtle actions such as spreading rumours or isolating an individual from group activities. In any case, the effects are detrimental to individuals and the broader organisation, creating a toxic culture that impacts growth and innovation.

    Our recent survey of over 2,000 UK employees found that 75% of UK employees have experienced a toxic workplace culture. The research also uncovered that employees were subjected to various forms of bullying in the workplace such as feeling belittled in front of other employees (56%), bullying (42%), forced to work long hours (32%) and harassment (26%). 

    According to the survey, employees believe that a negative workplace culture hinders employee retention (67%), overall happiness of employees (63%), productivity (54%), employee attendance (43%) and collaboration (39%).

    These are alarming statistics, highlighting the clear need for businesses to create healthier working environments for their people. Oak Engage’s toxic workplace report will be launched soon and it aims to shine a light on toxic workplaces and guide businesses to foster positive cultures, with recommendations from industry experts. Keep an eye on the resources section of our website. 

    Enhancing inclusion through communication

    A more inclusive workplace environment can be instrumental in mitigating instances of bullying in the workplace. Effective communication plays a vital role in fostering this sense of inclusion, ensuring everyone feels respected, heard and valued.

    Here are seven ways businesses can enhance inclusion through effective communication. 

    1. Foster a culture of open dialogue 

    An open dialogue encourages free expression of thoughts, ideas and concerns. Regular team meetings, suggestion boxes and open-door policies can help promote this level of openness.

    How Oak Engage can help: Oak Engage allows you to conduct Pulse Surveys and Polls which enables you to capture real-time feedback from employees. They allow employees to have their say, provide feedback and raise any issues they may have regarding bullying in the workplace. This gives a sense of belonging and increases employee engagement with two-way communication, fostering an inclusive work environment and makes your people feel valued, appreciated and heard. 

    2. Clearly communicate anti-bullying policies

    Businesses need to have explicit and easily accessible policies against bullying. Ensuring every employee understands these policies, what constitutes bullying and the consequences of such behaviour is crucial in preventing workplace bullying.

    How Oak Engage can help: Ask Aria, our new artificial intelligent assistant is launching soon. Whether you have a HR related query or a question about anti-bullying policies, Aria has you covered and provides you with immediate access to the information you need. Aria is also designed to evolve and learn over time, continually improving its responses and increasing its knowledge base.  Receive accurate, relevant and timely answers to your questions and relieve pressure from your HR team.

    3. Implement regular training and awareness programs 

    Implementing regular training and awareness programs helps address bullying in the workplace by educating employees on what constitutes bullying behaviour, its impact and how to recognise and address it. They also help in promoting the importance of empathy and respect in all interactions. 

    How Oak Engage can help: Your people can be sent policy reminders simply and easily. You can also make policy documents mandatory reads to make sure employees have read and understood the document. This will dramatically improve compliance and you’ll also receive data to see who has accepted the policy in real time. 

    4. Encourage active listening

    Active listening is crucial to effective communication. It ensures employees feel valued and understood, reducing feelings of exclusion and fostering inclusivity. It also enhances productivity, boosts morale and fosters a culture of loyalty and dedication. 

    How Oak Engage can help: We provide a secure and open platform where employees can share their experiences, concerns and suggestions regarding bullying in the workplace. This platform serves as a vital tool for active listening, enabling businesses to better understand their employee’s needs and concerns. For instance, anonymous surveys or forums could be utilised to gather insights on instances of workplace bullying, providing a safe space for employees to voice their experiences without fear of retribution. 

    By paying attention to this feedback, organisations can identify bullying issues early on, intervene effectively, and create preventive measures. This practice of active listening sends a strong message that employee’s voices are heard and that bullying is not tolerated, thereby fostering a safer, more respectful and inclusive work environment. 

    5. Model respectful behaviours at all levels

    Leaders should set the tone for respectful communication within the workplace. Their behaviours and attitudes serve as a model for your people. When leaders exemplify respectful interactions, it encourages a similar culture across the organisation. 

    How Oak Engage can help: Communication can vary widely among individuals and it’s important to maintain a level of professionalism in the workplace. Oak’s conversation management features help to create safe and inclusive conversations. Our built-in profanity filter automatically censors certain words and phrases, helping to maintain professional language throughout your digital space. Your people can also flag inappropriate comments for review, further ensuring that your platform remains a safe and welcoming space for all. 

    6. Empower bystanders

    Often, colleagues witnessing bullying feel powerless to intervene. Providing training and tools to stand up against bullying can be a powerful deterrent against such behaviour.

    How Oak Engage can help: Internal Communication teams can rest easy knowing that every employee has access to a safe and inclusive digital space. With Oak, people are able to view and highlight inappropriate content, ensuring that any potential issues regarding bullying in the workplace can be quickly addressed. 

    7. Promote transparency and confidentiality 

    Maintain an open-door policy where employees can report bullying incidents without fear of retaliation. Additionally, ensure the confidentiality of such reports to protect the rights and identities of those who come forward.

    How Oak Engage can help: Oak enables businesses to promote transparency while maintaining confidentiality, which are key elements in combating workplace bullying. It offers features like anonymous feedback and confidential reporting channels that allow employees to report instances of bullying without feeling scared. 

    Feedback on controversial topics can be kept out of the comment stream and managed one-to-one, helping to maintain a respectful and inclusive workplace. These controls enable you to manage your communications more effectively. This blend of transparency and confidentiality creates a safe and open culture that can deter bullying and promote a supportive, respectful work environment. 

    With the shift towards a predominantly digital workplace, it’s vital to equip employees with tools that promote a sense of safety and inclusivity, regardless of their location. The platform offered by Oak presents numerous features designed to nurture a positive workplace culture. 

    Through these strategies, businesses can begin to create an environment where all employees feel safe, respected and included. By fostering an atmosphere of open communication, respect and transparency, organisations can tackle workplace bullying head-on, enhancing the well-being and productivity of their workforce. 

    Remember, a healthy workplace isn’t just good for employees. It’s also beneficial for the business. An inclusive and supportive work environment leads to happier employees, lower turnover rates and ultimately, a more successful business.

    Oak Engage’s toxic workplace culture report will be launching next month, so keep your eyes peeled for key insight from a survey of over 2,000 employees and detailed recommendations from industry experts. In the meantime, visit our resources section for more information, valuable insights and additional support materials.

    If you would like to discover how Oak Engage can help you and your small business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch today. 


    Emma Williamson

    Emma is Head of Marketing & PR at Oak Engage. She has a passion for communications which has developed a number of her skills including campaign management, social media marketing, crisis communications and media relations. Emma has over eight years of experience working in Marketing and PR and is an Associate member of the CIPR and a member of the IoIC with a BA Honours Degree in Magazine Journalism and an MA in Public Relations.