Nancy couldn’t take it anymore. She had silently watched Rachel, the charge nurse, sabotage, intimidate, and torture any nurse she didn’t like. Everyone was afraid of Rachel – even the manager. But when one of the newer nurses, who had a ton of potential, quit because of Rachel’s bullying, Nancy had had enough. She filed a formal complaint with her manager and the director from Human Resources.
2 weeks later, Nancy was called into the office and terminated.
Workplace bullying is a HUGE problem costing organizations billions of dollars in lost revenue. In most cases, we know who the bullies are yet we do nothing about it. One of the primary reasons why nurses don’t speak up is because of fear of retaliation. To counter the possibility of retaliation, many healthcare organizations develop anti-retaliation policies and warn the bullies NOT to retaliate. However, we all know that if a bully wants to retaliate against you, they will find a way.
What makes matters worse is that when the target finally has the courage to speak up, they are often labeled as “a problem” and are at risk for disciplinary action. In a study done by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 23% of the targets who speak up get terminated.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Minimizing your chance of retaliation
1. JOIN FORCES
One person filing a formal complaint is a great start. However, you run the risk of retaliation. 10 people filing a formal complaint sends a very strong message. Get together with your colleagues who are also sick and tired of the bullying behavior and together, file a complaint.
2. BUILD A CASE
I talk a lot about the power of documentation because it’s a powerful tool we can use against the bullies. When you document bullying behavior, be objective, use verbatim comments, and always link their behavior to a patient safety or quality of care issue.
Doing these things will lessen your chances of retaliation, however, before I would speak up, I would prepare for…”What IF they terminated me?” Look for another job – just in case.
We are hemorrhaging great nurses because we allow the nasty ones to remain employed. Enough is enough! There are more of us who want to support each other – not eat. There are more of us who truly value other nurses – not who want to destroy them.
Let’s all do our part!
Take care and stay connected.
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About the author: Dr. Renee Thompson is a keynote speaker, author and professional development/anti-bullying thought leader. Renee spends the majority of her time helping healthcare and academic organizations address and eliminate bullying behavior. To find out how you can bring Renee to YOUR organization or nursing event, click here.