Is Your Business Prepared to Deal with Workplace Bullying Complaints?

Our HR consulting services can help you promote a productive, bully-free environment

workplace bullyingWorkplace bullying is expected to be the hottest HR topic of 2014, as increased media attention spreads awareness of the negative impact that workplace bullying can have on an employee’s health and a company’s bottom line. Some groups are even pushing for new workplace harassment laws that will provide a legal means for addressing bullying. Even if legislation is never passed, the fact that up to 50 percent of American workers report having experienced bullying at work is leading many employers to take steps to address this issue now. If you would like help with this process, ECL Software’s HR consulting services can provide guidance.

What is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying has been defined quite broadly as any type of deliberate, repeated misconduct that causes harm to an employee. A typical example could be a supervisor who routinely yells at employees and uses foul language when displeased with their work, causing employees to experience high levels of stress and perhaps even develop a stress-related medical issue.

Unfortunately, because bullies often manage to achieve short-term improvements in employee performance, management sometimes does not recognize the damage that is being done over the long term to employee morale and productivity. However, employing a bully can be a serious liability for a company as you never know when they will step over the line.

Some Forms of Workplace Bullying are Already Illegal

Bullied employees who believe their mistreatment is based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or some other protected category can take legal action against their tormentor. The lawsuit would take the form of a sexual harassment or workplace discrimination suit of some kind, and could prove very harmful to your business if you are found liable for the bully’s behavior.

4 Steps You Can Take Now

In order to protect your business from suffering morale or productivity problems due to bullying, as well as to prepare your company for the day when all forms of workplace bullying may become illegal, you should start crafting a detailed HR policy now. Here are four steps to take you from conception to implementation of your policy.

1. Schedule an HR consultation with ECL Software. Our expert HR consultant will be happy to help you understand workplace bullying better and determine how to incorporate anti-bullying measures into your corporate culture.

2. Draft a clear policy. Your policy must clearly explain what types of behavior are considered bullying, what evidence is required to prove bullying, and also what concrete disciplinary measures will be taken in bullying cases.

3. Create a complaint process.Employees need to have a clear understanding of how and when to file complaints. Include suggestions of alternative superiors to contact in case of misconduct on the part of the immediate superior, and make it clear that no retaliation for making complaints will be tolerated.

4. Conduct employee training. You may wish to do specific training on your anti-bullying policy and procedures, or simply roll these topics into your existing workplace harassment training sessions.