Monday, 3 june 2019 | Redacción CEU
Mobbing is a phenomenon that stays away from the public eye and, when it does not, it seeks protection under the umbrella of normality. It does not always appear under the same conditions which means that sometimes it might even be more difficult to identify. However, its mission does not change, it is always the same: intimidating, scaring, belittling, diminishing and discrediting the victim. It is a problem that has no gender or hierarchy but has a fixed location: the workplace. Consequently, companies should not turn a blind eye when they suspect a possible case of labor harassment is occurring. Their responsibility is not only legal, but ethical.
Mobbing -also known as workplace bulling, psychological harassment and adult bullying- is always presents itself under an abusive behavior that uses psychological violence as a weapon. This type of harassment, which occurs repeatedly, threatens the mental and even physical health of victims and has a detrimental effect on their work activity. Although the problem arises from the will of one or more workers, this phenomenon usually adopts the formula of "all against one". In other words, victims end up being socially isolated and discredited.
It is difficult to determine what can lead a bully to star and maintain a situation of abuse at workplace. Many experts agree the root of the harassment may be found in differences (values, characteristics, approaches, talent, etc.). Stereotypes and different perceptions also play a key role in this context. For example, this is the case of a group of workers who consider that a newly arrived employee, just for this reason alone, will not be up to the position for which he or she has been hired. The final goal of this kind of harassment is usually the subsequent abandonment of the company by the victim. That way, it stops being annoying or posing a threat to the bully.
Business management also plays a decisive role in mobbing cases. On the one hand, the inaction of the organization may have an impact on the situation becoming worse or new cases of workplace harassment arising. On the other hand, if companies do not take the necessary measures to prevent this type of behaviors, they are underestimating their effects in some way. Tolerance for unethical behaviors within organizations is another way to encourage bullies.
A case of mobbing is an obvious sign of an ethical problem. The drafting of an ethical code is not enough in itself. For it to work, companies need to put into practice what is written and be willing to act when it is necessary. Ethics must be worked on every day from the different dimensions of the business activity. Only in this way may it be permeable and transferred to the day to day of the organization. In the first place, companies that want to fight mobbing should adopt a preventive approach that is based on the evaluation of the psychosocial risks within the organization, the education of the employees and the establishment of internal protocols against harassment. Likewise, the more open the communication among the different departments and hierarchical positions is, the easier to identify a possible case of harassment may become.
Companies have to be able to react to a case of mobbing rightly. When a company receives a warning or detects an inappropriate behavior, it should take precautionary measures and do everything possible to prevent this type of behavior. It is important to take into account in these cases -without ignoring the defendant's presumption of innocence- that victims should not be doubly punished in any case. Many times, companies decide to transfer victims to another departments, so they are isolated and displaced for a second time. The company's role does not end in these precautionary measures, but they should rather launch an internal investigation to get to know the case in depth and make a decision based on it.
Far from what a priori may seem, mobbing does not occur only in a single direction:
In one way or another, these behaviors are always reprehensible and have a very damaging effect on organizations (bad reputation, negative work environment, poor project viability, low productivity,...).
At The CEU IAM Business School we are aware of the fact that a global and digital scenario, which is marked by change constantly, should be especially committed to an effective answer to these ethical problems. This is one of the main reasons that has led us to design our International MBA: it is a unique training which involves professionals from more than 30 countries and which focuses on the development of the skills, abilities and knowledge that today's leaders need to leave an ethical and lasting mark on time.