How can employers help stop workplace bullying?

Stop workplace bullying

A 2017 report by the Workplace Bullying Institute, “U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey” indicated that 60 million (37.33%) of the US workforce was affected by workplace bullying. This includes staff that were either bullied or witnessed bullying but afraid of reporting it to their superiors. Of those who reported they were bullied, 61% of employees who responded were bullied by their boss and 33% of employees were bullied by their co-workers.

Because of shame or fear of retaliation, most victims of bullying indicated that they weren’t comfortable talking about it.

On the other hand, reducing workplace bullying can boost employee morale and encourage employees to be loyal and committed to your organisation. Employees who feel respected are happy employees, are more productive, have better records of attendance, and are loyal to their company.   Their positive influences impress your customers and customers believe they have made the right choice in doing business with you. A happy workplace takes your business to next level.

As an employer, what can you do to reduce workplace bullying in your organisation? How do you help your employees to break their silence and share their feedback?

The Red Flag Group has determined the top 5 things you should consider are:

1. Raise awareness

Educate employees about workplace bullying.  What it is bullying, how to identify it, what is the impact of bullying on a bullied employee, other employees, the perpetrator and the organisation.   

Help your employees to understand that being bullied is not their fault. One of the most common reasons for bullying is jealousy or insecurity by the perpetrators of bullying.  If someone is being bullied, encourage them to speak up. Even witnesses should speak up!

Training should also include your policies and the need to protect whistle-blowers from retaliation.

2. Practice makes perfect

As an employer, incorporate workplace harassment-related education into any team building activities that your organisation hosts. Advise your teams to practice in role plays as the bullies, targets and witnesses. Help your employees to learn the psychological impact of each role. The idea is to tell your employees they should never go through bullying in silence. If an employee is uncomfortable reaching out to HR for any reason, they should be encouraged to reach out to a manager who can help facilitate the situation.

3. Establish an effective reporting channel for your employee

Given the large percentage of employees that claim to be bullied by their managers, it is vital that employees have a method of reporting which is independent from the management chain of command.

The reporting channel should allow for many different methods of communication, such as email, chat, web and mobile so that the subject can report in a format they feel most comfortable.

To have your employee report harassment to you, they must first trust your ability to protect them. Employees need to know that you care about the confidentiality, and you can protect them from retaliation.  If the staff is uncomfortable making a report, the ability to report anonymously is essential, preferably with a two way communication channel. The ability to report anonymously is the key requirement in helping employees trust a reporting mechanism. It encourages employees to continue reporting incidents of wrongdoing in your organisation without fear for their jobs and any retaliation.

4. Demonstrate your ability to protect the case reporter

Regardless of whether reports are provided anonymously or not, it is important that you control the information during any investigation, so only those who need to know about an allegation are involved.

Investigations should be planned according to a pre-defined protocol to ensure that all parties’ rights are respected. Particular attention should be paid to the welfare of the reporter (where known) so that they know where to turn in case of any retaliation.

5. Remember to comply with the law

All programmes, regardless of how beneficial they are to the staff, must also ensure that they comply with legal protections. With whistle-blowing on a bully, two main areas to focus on are:

  • Data protection. Both the subject, reporter and other witnesses to an incident may have rights to have data about them protected. This is especially important for European citizens, who have recently been provided significant rights under the General Data Protection Regulation, although other locations also provide obligations to protect personal data.

  • Employee rights. Even where you think the bullying is clearly occurring, it is important to follow the employment laws in the location to ensure that you are able to properly deal with the incident.

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How can we help

The Red Flag Group has many years’ experience in developing programmes related to workplace harassment as well as whistle-blowing. We also provide hotline and training services to support the successful operation of your programmes.

If you wish to understand more about effective hotline and case management products. Schedule a call with us.

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