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LAS VEGAS -– Zero tolerance policies have been adopted to combat bullying in schools, but when it comes to the workplace, such negative behavior can be overlooked. Convenience store operators face a lot of different challenges today and creating a positive workplace helps deal with those challenges, explained Rebecca Boyd, human resources director at Weigel's Stores Inc.
The 2014 NACS Show brought bullying to the forefront during the "No Bullies Allowed: Positive Workplace Culture" educational session Wednesday. With Boyd as the moderator, the session took a look at why QuickChek Corp. has been consistently named the one of the Best Places to Work in New Jersey (for the past five years) and New York (for the past two years).
According to Bob Graczyk, vice president of human resources at QuickChek, one in five working adults has left a job because of bullying.
"As a human resources professional, I have to think about why people leave, but I never thought they leave because of bullying," he said.
To date, 26 states have passed some type of legislation against workplace bullying and research has found that bullying is more prevalent than sexual harassment, Graczyk noted.
Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based QuickChek has 138 company-owned stores in New Jersey and New York State. And, according to Graczyk, the company's culture sets it apart from other businesses and does not lend itself to bullying.
"It's just not acceptable," he stressed.
The company's mission is to be a great place to work, a great place to shop and a great place to invest. Its core values include strong leadership, total customer dedication, act like an owner, be the best you can be, play to win and caring. QuickChek is so invested in keeping its values in check that it asks all employees to carry around a core values card to always remind them.
For employees, the core values process starts from day one. In orientation classes led by district leaders, new team members are trained on the values, the QuickChek culture and what behaviors are expected of them. For example, Graczyk noted, the retailer has a no profanity policy.
"Profanity and talking in an unacceptable manner is not acceptable in a great place to work," he said.
The retailer also runs QuickChek University, which, among other things, stresses zero tolerance on sexual harassment, discrimination and intimidation.
"At QuickChek, we simply say bullies are not allowed. If you have that style, don't come to QuickChek," Graczyk remarked.
Bullying in the workplace takes on several forms. It can be yelling, verbal abuse, threatening conduct, intimidation or humiliation. Specific examples include a boss constantly criticizing an employee and not noting accomplishments; yelling whether at meetings or in the store; creating impossible work schedules; and spreading gossip and lies.
"At QuickChek, we talk to people, not about them," the HR executive added.
Workplace bullying can be just as harmful as schoolyard bullying. Effects include feelings of shame and humiliation, stress, loss of sleep and anxiety. And the consequences for the employer can be pretty significant: reduced employee productivity and morale; high turnover and absenteeism; and an increase in medical worker's compensation costs.
Ultimately, saying no to bullying starts from the top down. Graczyk noted that if QuickChek President and CEO Dean Durling gets a call about bullying, he is on top of the situation.
"This is critical. It begins at the top: your beliefs, your values and how you behave day in and day out," he said.