In hard times people tend more to be willing to find out why things aren’t working and so a growing awareness of satisfying employees lead to a more detailed picture of bullying in the workplace. Due to great changes in hotel and hospitality industry caused by the economic crisis and its cumulative effects on the behaviour of managers as well as on employees, volition emerged to do more against bullying in the workplace.
This paper critically analyzes the reason for the occurrence of bullying and gives impacts on relationship between bullying, work and health. Furthermore it shows emerging problems for the hotel and hospitality industry and gives advice to find appropriate solutions to provide a bullying-free working place. Several published definitions of bullying make it hard to find the genuine meaning of it.
According to the Department of Education? s article, published on their homepage www. education. gov. k in October 2010, bullying can be defined as “Behaviour by an individual or group usually repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically, emotionally or mentally”. This definition is accepted and used by various organisations in the UK for anti-bullying publications and treatment policies. Unfortunately this definition covers an array of bullying types, so Zapf D. (1996) categorised five types of bullying behaviour in the workplace to get a closer look on what bullying really is.
They are work-related bullying which may include changing your work tasks or making them difficult to perform, social isolation, personal attacks or attacks on your private life by ridicule, insulting remarks, gossip or the like, verbal threats where you are criticised, yelled at or humiliated in public and physical violence or threats of such violence. Referring to those statements it is possible to critically analyze bullying by keeping in mind the definition in relationship with Zapf? s five types of bullying.
Nowadays it is well-known that bullying is common in almost every Industry whether in small businesses or international companies. Especially in tourism-related businesses like hotel and hospitality industry, bullying causes capacious damage in different dimensions concerning areas like staff turnover and revenue but also number of staff away sick and motivation of employees. To avoid long-term impacts of harassment, bullying or mobbing has to be nipped in the bud according to Dolan C. (2010):1 who said that “Bullying can? survive in workplaces that won? t support it. ”
To provide such a workplace, is today? s great challenge for managers. Generally reasons for bullying are minor problems which aren’t obviously inflicting damage to somebody like discontent about matters, problems in private live, unintended aspersions compared to a co-worker or sometimes a harsh tone in stressful situations. In Hotel and Hospitality industry the constant contact with different people, whether new staff members or guests, provides an excellent breeding ground for such problems.
It could be an annoying guest, a challenging situation or an excessive period of work strain which gets people to offend a colleague. All these minor incidents are harmful for working climate and interpersonal relationships in long-term. These problems could be categorised, in alleviated acceptation, into different types of physically and psychologically violence, referring to Fineman S. (2003), who splits workplace violence into intrusive, consumer-related and organizational violence. Intrusive violence rarely occurs in hotel and hospitality industry but is not entirely excluded.
On August 21, 2010 the Intercontinental hotel in Rio de Janeiro was scene of a taking of hostages. 10 employees of the hotel were restraint for several hours until they have been released, after the police took some action towards the criminals. Attacks by terrorists against hotels and employees infrequently take place in most countries, but witnessing crime related situations could be an immense strain. A more eminent factor in tourism-related businesses is consumer related violence.
Demands of customers which couldn? always be measured, are causing complaints about e. g. delays or bad handling. Especially front office employees have to deal with enormous pressure by being consistently confronted with complaints, and personal affronts from customers. Furthermore Fineman S. (2003):164 describes the occurrence of organizational violence in the workplace as a failing in the ethnically opinions of entrepreneur and characterizes this form of bullying as follows, “It translates into practices that systematically cause danger, risk or exploitation to employees.
Emotionally, the employer can feel indifferent, even derisory about its workers and their psychological or physical well-being: ‘there are always more out there’. The worker may feel equally indifferent but trapped in the job. ” Actually frequent occurrence of such, as in the majority of cases irrelevant sensed incidents, leads to a growth of troubles and personal antipathy against fellow-workers and employers is growing until the straw that breaks the camel? s back and physically or psychological damages are the immediate consequences.
As has been proved in an array of researches by organisations dealing with the problems of bullying and harassment in the workplace, like ACAS, bullying affects a company in a tremendous variety of ways. Hotel and Hospitality industry is a very people-intensive branch primarily composed of small businesses. According to ACSA a main impact of bullying is the increase in rates of absence, especially concerning small firms where cover for sick employees is difficult to arrange.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Europe’s largest HR and development professional body, releases every year a survey report pointing out the consequences of days of absence. In 2009 the average in days of absence, concerning all business sectors, was 7. 4 days per employee per year. The amount in hotel and hospitality sector was below average with 6. 0 days per employee per year but in comparison between hotel and hospitality and other businesses, the average annual costs of absence per employee per year are superior.
Relating to the CIPD the average annual costs of absence per employee per year, enfolding all business-sectors, are 692 pounds. In this area hotel and hospitality businesses are the tragic top of the table with 1199 pounds per employee per year. The survey also shows that stress (often a result of bullying) is the major cause for long-term absence. Other consequences of bullying, described by ACAS, are poor morale and poor employee relations, loss of respect for managers and supervisors, poor performance, lost productivity, resignations, damage to company reputation and tribunal and other court cases and payment of unlimited compensations.
Taking a closer look on stress it is to say that in hotel and hospitality industry it is a necessity for employees to know how to handle stress because there will always be periods of strain. The big problem in coping stress is that no two people respond to the same stressor in the same way and this is the perfect point where management should intervene. According to Stranks (2005) different strategies can be considered in dealing with work-related stress, first of all it is important recognizing the evidence of stress which could manifest in sickness, alcoholism or decreasing motivation.
A second strategy is to prevent stress through e. g. personal stress audits for employees to identify causes of stress, to monitor stress levels and to report and discuss stressful elements of work to identify the measures necessary at organizational level to alleviate the problem. A third way is to give employees the opportunity to develop a personal stress-tackling technique by providing training and education. Stranks (2005):113 in this point said that employees need advice on identifying their own personal stress response and the measures necessary to coping with it. ”
Advice to handle stress could be found from organisations like Health and Safety Executive (HSE) releasing handbooks for employees (2003, Tackling Work-Related Stress: A Guide for Employees) as well as for managers (2001, Tackling Work-Related Stress: A Manager’s Guide to improving and Maintaining Employee Health and Well-being). These strategies work very well as reported in many case studies e. g. on United Biscuits by HSE in 2007.
The case study points out that United Biscuits benefited from taking action against stress in many ways. From 2005 to 2007 reports of work related stress cases decreased from 24 to 6 per year. Furthermore HRS mentions that each case where absence is prevented, it is estimated the cost of 4 weeks wages and other associated costs is saved. As a matter of fact it is a necessity to override bullying and its consequences by management to keep costs low and protect employees from physical or psychological injuries caused by bullying.
As mentioned in ‘bullying and harassment at work’, an advisory booklet publicised by ACAS, the first step to provide a bully-free working environment is to set up a formal policy including a statement of commitment from management and acknowledgement that bullying and harassment are problems for the organisation. The policy could also comprise a clear statement that bullying and harassment is unlawful, that it will not be tolerated, that it may be treated as disciplinary offences and that decisions should not be taken on the basis or whether someone submitted to or rejected a particular instance of harassment.
Furthermore the policy is to comprehend steps the organisation takes to prevent bullying, responsibilities of supervisors and managers and confidentiality for any complainant. The policy should involve grievance, investigation and disciplinary procedures with timescales for action. Another point should deal with protection from victimisation and the importance and possibility of training for managers to avoid bullying. Involving staff into the process of developing such a policy will help achieving additional authority.
Such a policy is supported by Stale Einarsen (1999):23 in the international journal of manpower who said “If not being permitted or supported by the people in power, a bully knows he/she may find him/herself the victim of aggressive counter-attacks and severe punishment. ” In reference to ACAS the second step is to set a good example in behaviour, like discussing problems and consult employees instead of a too authoritarian management style. A current negative example for this point is the discussion about Gordon Brown? s abusive treatment of staff.
The Guardian (21. 2. 2010) advertised that several employees from Downing Street No. 10 contacted the National Anti-bullying Helpline which raises discussions about Mr. Browns management style. Mr. Brown is being denoted as a bully by employees including assertions that he swore at staff, grabbed them by lapels and shouted at them. Third step to deal with bullying and harassment as a manager is to maintain fair procedures for dealing promptly with complaints from employees by using clear grievance and disciplinary procedure described in the Employment Relations Act 1999.
Fourth step is to set clear standards of behaviour, to provide training and information about how to deal with bullying and to communicate the organisation? s views on it. Fifth, make clear that complaints will be dealt with fairly, confidentially and sensitively. By following these five steps of ACAS it is getting a lot easier to provide a good working climate and satisfy employees. In conclusion bullying is a problem affecting all businesses with different strength, in different ways and with different consequences, but the reason for occurrence of bullying is the one constant in all companies.
It all starts with recurring minor problems that aren’t recognized until they grow big, so discussing problems and communicate them will help companies save money and satisfy employees. By using a metaphor to describe bullying, the strength in which bullying affects humans as well as companies could be expressed as follows A single thunderous gust could disroot trees, but a permanent breeze transforms mountains into grains of sand.