Bullying, manipulation, coercion and harassment - Not only are these unacceptable at workplace but are universally inappropriate. Whether you work for a successfully established organisation or a startup, corporates altogether have zero tolerance for workplace bullying. Proper committees and panels are devised and set up in which HRs & members of the leadership team are a part of. Every employee receives an official email that explains the legal repercussions against an exploiter.
Here’s something we must always keep in mind to ensure a safe & healthy work environment.
How can HR deal with workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying is a situation in which someone in the company intentionally tries to hurt, isolate or discourage some other team member. It is not limited to physical harm but it also involved mental, emotional and psychological misbehaviour. Some may ignore certain kind of behaviour as the typical work culture that they have. While it’s okay to be aggressive and passionate about work but one just cannot behave with somebody else in an unacceptable manner.
As it is said, there is a fine line between an aggressive culture and bullying. However, in no way we must try to hurt someone or encourage someone else doing it.
Events that come under workplace bullying
As I mentioned previously, there is a fine line that differentiates an aggressive work culture from bullying, we must focus on what is unsuitable. Let’s list them one-by-one.
- Intentionally trying to play blame-game against someone
- Socialising with everybody around but single out someone in particular
- Constantly criticising their work in a group instead of giving personal feedback
- Making inappropriate jokes and passing unfriendly remarks
- Contrary to the previous point, constantly and deliberately assigning additional workload
- Setting unrealistic targets to create toxic pressure
- Tampering with a colleague's personal or work belongings
- Taking advantage of a senior position and not letting the juniors voice their opinions
- Demanding unruly favours that are offensive and not professional
- Spreading rumours about or bad mouthing a colleague
- Taking credit for someone else’s work and intimidating that person
- Not approving a team member’s application for leave or promotion
There could be other instances as well in which an employee feels offended, disregarded or undervalued. What’s important is to fight against these reasons of disarray and create strict policies that discourage such behaviour.
5 ways to shut down workplace bullying
Workplace bullying could happen to anyone. Specially when you newly join a company, you might feel secluded or someone might see you as a competition. It’s human nature so, it’s quite normal to be feeling this way. However, if you face something similar but don’t do anything about it then eventually it will create a bigger problem. As much as you may hate going forward, here are a few measures you must take -
- If you are comfortable speaking to the person directly then go ahead and have a polite one-on-one discussion. Most of the times the bullying is unintentional and just casual banter. Communicating might just solve the problem right there and then.
- Talk to your direct reporting manager.
- If your direct reporting manager is the one troubling you then go to the HR or the next person, who is senior to your reporting manager.
- Discuss with a colleague, whom you trust. Tell them how you feel about the bullying and check how serious the situation is.
- Don’t retaliate. If you are having trouble then try and sort it out with the concerned person directly. If not then talk to someone else about it but reprisal is not the best way to go about it.
What do you do as an HR to ensure employee safety?
As to your HR role, employee engagement and safety becomes one of the most important responsibilities for you. This sounds easy but is difficult to execute. Therefore, try and settle down the situation in the most cooperative and balanced manner.
- Don’t let the situation go out of hand. If you see the early sign of danger, encourage the employees to talk it.
- Communication is key. Sit the concerned employees together and try to have a conversation with them together.
- Encourage the team members to hang out together more often. Talk to the other team members to try and make the situation better. When there are more people to help it becomes a lot easier to manage a sensitive situation.
- In case the situation gets too severe, speak to the higher management right away. Delaying too much might not be the best strategy.
In the end, we all go to work to grow and help the company grow. No individual can do it alone therefore, it asks for a constructive team effort. Minor disagreements and clashes are natural to occur. There can be situations of miscommunication, haughty behaviour and disorganisation. However, there is always a way to mitigate such events in a mature way instead of resorting to workplace bullying.