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How to Identify and Manage a Workplace Bully in a Veterinarian's Office

UPDATED 03/15/2023

Workplace bullying is a serious issue that can harm morale, intimidate employees, and negatively impact patient care and retention.

Identifying a workplace bully in a veterinarian's office can be challenging, but there are some signs to look out for such as constant criticism, sabotage, and exclusion. To manage the bully, it's important to document any incidents, confront the bully calmly but firmly, and report the behavior to a supervisor or HR representative if necessary. It's also essential to prioritize self-care and seek support from trusted colleagues or a mental health professional if needed.

Identifying Different Types of Bullying in Your Veterinary Practice

Workplace bullying comes in many different forms:

• Humiliation, ridicule, and teasing are among the more aggressive forms of bullying. Let’s say a team member had a speech impediment, and their coworkers made fun of them for that. This would be an example of workplace bullying. 

• Intentionally setting up other team members to fail by assigning them to work they are unqualified to do or withholding critical information needed for a task. For example, let’s say you assigned someone to take X-rays of an aggressive dog without giving them that training, and the worker was then unable to complete that task. 

• Any form of harassment, including sexual harassment.

• Pressuring a person to resign or not come into work. 

How a Workplace Bully Could Affect the Workplace Environment

There is no question that bullying behaviors can negatively impact the entire veterinary practice if they are allowed to go unchecked. Bullying can intimidate team members and make patients uncomfortable. If allowed to run rampant, they can result in employees leaving. Furthermore, a bully who is not held accountable may signal that bullying behavior is tolerated. Such failure to act can make bullying contagious and result in team members ganging up on their colleagues.

As such, you must ensure that you appropriately investigate any allegations of bullying and document any allegations. Using performance management tools — like those offered by HR for Health —  can help you document allegations, confirmed incidents, and actions you took to stop the bullying.  


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What Harassment & Employee Safety Laws Say About Workplace Bullies

To be clear, workplace bullying is not going away. Furthermore, more and more states are passing laws regarding harassment, training, and documentation. pexels-fauxels-3184418

Thus, your veterinary practice must create a written policy in your employee handbook that makes a strong statement against workplace bullying. You also need to develop a set of processes that dictate that you will investigate every complaint and conduct necessary training. Doing so will enable you to protect your veterinary practice. 

At HR for Health, we're here to help, and we have features that can track training and store any documents, as well as alert you when any pieces of training expire. Using these tools allows you to ensure that you are on top of your anti-harassment and bullying education. 


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You Need to Have a No-Tolerance Policy Documented and Signed by All Team Members 

Having a specific policy against bullying — including an explicit no-bullying policy that your team members sign — can help create a better working environment in your veterinary practice. It can also protect you against any specific workplace issues. It can ensure that you set the right tone and watch your team members. It can also save you from legal challenges or allegations that you did not take bullying seriously.

Furthermore, this may be a regulatory requirement too. Check your state policies to see what regulatory practices may exist. This policy should be a strict statement about what isn't tolerated and what employees should do if they believe they have been the victim of workplace bullying.

It's also worth noting that a no-tolerance policy makes things easier in your veterinary practice. It can ensure that you are consistent with your approach for each situation. It also communicates the seriousness of bullying to your team.

If you need help designing such a statement, or your employee handbook, HR for Health is here, and we can help you create an employee handbook with all the necessary components.


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What You Need to Know

There are legal consequences for not acting on allegations of bullying. Thankfully, there are things your veterinary practice can do to minimize bullying and create a comfortable work atmosphere for all of your team members. 

How HR for Health Can Help

HR for Health has a variety of ways to help your veterinary practice grow and thrive and to protect it from HR problems like workplace bullying. For example, our document storage features can ensure that any issues are documented and that the actions taken are maintained. Furthermore, we can help you create an employee handbook with a strict no-bullying policy. Such a handbook can help protect you from any legal issues that bullying may cause.

Ready to get started with HR for Health? Contact us today to set up a fifteen-minute consultation and learn more about how HR for Health can help your practice grow and protect you from various HR challenges - including bullying. 

Schedule an HR Consultation