It’s no secret that bullying is no longer simply the domain of the schoolyard. As many as 25 percent of US employees are reportedly harassed, threatened or attacked at work. There also are more than 1.5-million victims of workplace violence each year. So what is an employer to do to keep its facility bully free in the face of this troubling trend?
A new XpertHR podcast takes a deep dive into the issue with Indiana employment attorney Jeff Beck, of Faegre Baker Daniels. Beck says there are several steps an employer needs to take to get out in front of incidents and be proactive rather than reactive.
This all starts, he says, by having an anti-bullying policy in place that addresses threatening and harassing behavior with specific language and is communicated to all employees. Managerial commitment also is needed to make employees feel comfortable that the policy is more than mere lip service.
Beck advises that employees need to be strongly encouraged to report any behavior that constitutes bullying and know that coming forward with a good-faith belief that harassment is occurring will not affect their employment.
He adds that having multiple reporting mechanisms is also important because of the potential for cases where the alleged harasser or bully has managerial responsibility. According to Beck, one way to accomplish this goal is to have an anonymous reporting hotline.
Acting on complaints is crucial as well, or else employee morale could be undermined. “As soon as you have a reason to believe bullying or threatening behavior has occurred, then you have to really dig in and investigate,” says Beck. “An employer then must follow through with discipline if inappropriate behavior has occurred.”
But that’s not all. To hear more insights on how employers can handle workplace bullying, and how to know when a line has been crossed, listen to the latest US podcast.
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