Workplace bullying and harassment
How can a successful HR manager deal with these challenges?
Workplace Bullying and Harassment
While many people observed bullying as a school issue where children bullied their peers, it has become a significant concern at workplaces. It is the responsibility of human resources managers to deal with matters affecting the employees. As such, many human resources managers are increasingly dealing with cases involving bullying and harassment. Bullying is unreasonable, annoying, and frequent behavior that may have a safety or health risk to the target individual or group of persons. Various forms of harassment and bullying at workplaces may profoundly affect the employees’ relationship with their colleagues and employers. Besides, bullying and harassment may lead to poor performance and productivity among the workers. While some workers may engage in physical violence due to bullying and harassment, other employees may develop stress, depression, or thoughts of quitting the job. Therefore, harassment and bullying may undermine the carefully designed human resources practices for a happy and productive workplace. These challenges demonstrate why human resources managers must determine the most appropriate ways of addressing harassment and bullying at workplaces. This paper investigates how a successful HR manager can deal with bullying and harassment challenges.
Human resources managers should maintain a workplace that is free from harassment and bullying. Creating bullying-free workplace behavior increases workers’ performance and productivity. Recent research shows that employees will be highly motivated to perform their duties at workplaces when they realize that their employer and human resources manager are committed to a safe and bullying-free work environment (Rockett et al., 2017). The most effective human resources managers employ different strategies to realize a free workplace from harassment and bullying.
One of the most effective HR strategies for dealing with bullying is the creation of an anti-bullying policy. While using the most appropriate channels, the HR manager communicates the content of the policy so that every employee understands the policy requirements and consequences for contravening the policy (Sheehan et al., 2020). The policy must clearly show the steps that the organization through HR may take against every worker who bullies or harasses another worker. Since bullying may influence psychological, emotional, and social effects, HR managers may confidentially handle bullying and harassment complaints. Besides, an excellent anti-bullying policy document should also provide a clear set of steps on how victims of harassment and bullying can lodge or report their complaints to the human resources manager.
In situations where local mechanisms may not handle the complaints, or the complaints involves a supervisor or a manager, the policy document should also show how the complaint finds a way to the upper management. An accessible and confidential path can motivate the employee to report a complaint without fear of further victimization by the involved party. Based on the existing literature, a human resources manager may conduct a formal investigation to assess the complaint while offering any necessary mediation or conciliation. The research shows that the nature of the lodged allegations often determines the kind of steps that the management takes against the bullying worker (Sheehan et al., 2020). Effective human resource managers consider regular communication with swift action against the perpetrators of bullying and harassment at workplaces. Whether a formal or informal complaint, HR managers should emphasize speedy investigation and action on bullying and harassment to avoid any alteration of evidence or deviation of the matter, which may influence the company’s bad reputation.
Apart from creating and distributing a documented anti-bullying policy to all the workers, effective HR managers also provide adequate training on bullying and harassment to other managers and supervisors, and other employees (Gardner & Cooper-Thomas, 2021). The training enlightens on the appropriate anti-bullying procedures and how the involved parties handle bullying or harassment complaints. In addition, HR managers frequently remind (for instance, once a year) the workers of the procedures for filing a complaint against harassment and bullying.
Studies reveal that many victims of harassment and bullying may develop low self-esteem, stress, or depression. Sometimes, victims of sexual harassment or bullying may develop withdrawal symptoms and may begin to have frequent absenteeism and sick leaves. Another cluster of bullying and harassment victims may develop cognitive and other mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxieties that often reduce their work performances and workplace productivity (Robert, 2018). In light of this, excellent HR managers may establish counseling services. When instituting a counseling services department or facility, HR managers may consider an independent and neutral workplace counselor who may come to the office as and when the need arises. An outsourced counselor can effectively provide counseling sessions to the victim regardless of the organization’s size.
While counseling services help the victims to develop coping mechanisms after the harassment or bullying, anti-bullying and harassment policies mitigate against bullying and harassment at the workplace. On the other hand, frequent employee training on the effects of harassment and bullying helps the workers to embrace each other regardless of their weaknesses and any form of the stereotype that may have risk on one’s safety and health conditions. Training against bullying and harassment often involves interpersonal and intragroup communication concepts where the workers may develop the right communication skills to avoid unnecessary conflicts. Anti-bullying training also involves teamwork concepts to help the workers develop group commitment and focus on the organization’s success and oneself (Rockett et al., 2017). During this training, HR managers can closely observe each worker’s aggression and behavior, leading to bullying and harassment while offering the right skills to address the challenge.
One of the takeaways from this research is that bullying and harassment experiences have immense, instant, and lingering impacts on the victims. Besides, victims are highly likely to develop the intentions of quitting the job mainly due to the negative psychological, social, and mental health concerns caused by bullying and harassment. In many instances where the HR manager stays longer than expected to address the lodged complaint, victims develop lower work engagement and job insecurity. Some of the main reported health effects of bullying and harassment include stress, depression, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorders, and anxieties. These health concerns make most of the victims take frequent sick offs. However, HR managers can effectively mitigate bullying and harassment by carefully designing and implementing an anti-bullying and harassment policy. Human resources managers should also show seriousness against these challenges by conducting frequent training on reporting complaints. The developed anti-bullying policy also stipulates steps to report bullying and harassment involving supervisors and other managers to the top management. Counseling services are also essential to reduce health effects on the victims.
Gardner, D., & Cooper-Thomas, H. D. (2021). Addressing workplace bullying: the role of training. Dignity and Inclusion at Work, 85-107.
Robert, F. (2018). Impact of workplace bullying on job performance and job stress. Journal of Management Info, 5(3), 12-15.
Rockett, P., Fan, S. K., Dwyer, R. J., & Foy, T. (2017). A human resource management perspective of workplace bullying. Journal of aggression, conflict and peace research.
Sheehan, M., McCabe, T. J., & Garavan, T. N. (2020). Workplace bullying and employee outcomes: a moderated mediated model. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 31(11), 1379-1416.