The Carlton Connection

Addressing the Early Signs of Bullying in the Workplace

In high school, bullying is fairly easy to spot, often in the form of aggressive verbal or physical behavior. Unfortunately, bullying in the workplace is often subtle and more difficult to detect on the surface.

As an employer, it’s important that your leadership and management teams are trained and knowledgeable on how to spot signs of bullying in the workplace in order to rectify issues among employees as quickly as possible. Here are some of the early signs of bullying and how to address them.

Isolation or Exclusion

If an employee is being repeatedly isolated or excluded from workplace meetings, decisions or events that he or she should be included on, this is a clear red flag that some level of social bullying may be taking place. It’s the responsibility of managers to ensure every member of the team is being treated fairly and given the opportunity to participate in the various functions of the workplace that involve them. If you notice anyone on your team intentionally leaving out an employee, it’s time to step in and get to the root of the problem.

Unfair Expectations

In every workplace, employees should be given a fair set of expectations by his or her manager. Managers who constantly change their expectations or are never satisfied with their employees – no matter how well they perform or how much they achieve – may be demonstrating signs of bullying to their subordinates. It’s critical that you supervise your managers and take appropriate action if you see them constantly changing expectations or being inconsistent with their demands, leaving their employees in constant confusion in terms of what they need to do to excel in their roles.


While it may not seem obvious at first, employees who seek to control and manipulate the actions of their coworkers for personal gain are demonstrating the characteristics of a bully. For example, if you notice an employee telling others what to do or damaging a coworker’s property, these are clear signs the employee is trying to manipulate a situation for the purposes of their own retribution or advancement. Even if a situation appears trivial, it’s imperative to intervene immediately if you spot any sign of manipulation occurring among members of your team.

Make a Priority of Improving Your Employees’ Morale

Being proactive about addressing the earliest signs of bullying is instrumental in preventing more significant problems in the workplace from pervading your workplace culture. Taking bullying seriously will demonstrate that your leadership team is committed to protecting the integrity of your workplace, and most importantly, ensuring its employees are given a safe, productive and positive work environment.

Headquartered in Houston, TX, Carlton Staffing has remained committed to providing innovative staffing solutions to Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth companies for over 35 years. Whether you’re a job-seeker or an employer, building a trusted partnership with Carlton Staffing will help you reach your current and future workforce goals.

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