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Tips for Creating an Anti-Bullying Policy

Posted by Joanne on November 29, 2012 Comments Off

Our “Bullying in the Workplace” series continues this week with Tips for Creating an Anti-Bullying Policy. A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Stuart Rudner, Thomson Miller Law Firm, and he mentioned that policies help protect individuals and organizations by mitigating legal and financial risks. Policies clarify expectations so that people act in ways that enhance work relationships and create a safe place to work. Policies and procedures provide managers with guidelines on how to deal with issues in an equitable and consistent manner, provide a method of informing and communicating expectations and consequences, outline responsibilities of executive, management, and employees, and provide a go to resource for employees for clarification and information, and more.

A policy statement is difficult to implement, if there are no procedures to follow, and no day-to-day practices that make the intent reality.

In Ontario and other provinces, workplace violence and harassment legislation seeks to ensure a safe place to work. This legislation mandates the development of policies, among other things, on workplace violence and harassment. Some organizations might choose to include workplace bullying with workplace harassment or workplace violence policies, and others might develop a separate policy on bullying.

Each organization needs to ensure that the policy is written to match the culture or the organization, and in a way that meets legislation. Copying another company’s policy will not create a policy aligned to your unique organization and may not comply with specific legislation depending on industry, location, etc.  Here are a few tips for creating an effective anti-bullying policy.

Tips for creating an effective anti-bullying policy, procedures and practices

  • Include a statement explaining the employer’s commitment to protecting workers from workplace bullying (the intent of the policy).
  • A zero-tolerance statement.
  • A scope clause (address bullying from all possible sources – customers, clients, employers, etc.).
  • A definition section that defines: Workplace; Bullying; and other key terms.
  • A section explaining what does not constitute bullying (i.e. effective management of performance).
  • A section describing responsibilities of workplace members: employees, supervisors, managers, executives.
  • A statement referring to appropriate legislation or other related policies.
  • A reporting, and complaint procedure.
  • A discipline and consequences statement.
  • An anti-retaliation section.
  • A statement pertaining to employee education and training.
  • The date the policy was issued, and date of revisions.

Companies should also create forms and checklists, to ensure procedures are administered consistently and fairly. And it is important that all employees, including managers, and executives take part in the training. Sometimes executives and management do not attend training sessions and this does not send the right message.

Policies on bullying, with clear procedures, and consistent practices set expectations for a respectful workplace, and takes action against bullying behaviour. This is important because harassment, including bullying, left unchecked, can escalate into violence in very different ways as the following illustrates:

  • Lori Dupont, a nurse at a Windsor hospital, experienced harassment and bullying from a co-worker and former partner, which escalated to Ms. Dupont being murdered at work.
  • Pierre LeBrun, an employee at OC Transport in Ottawa, was bullied and harassed to the point that he murdered several coworkers.
  • Carl Dessureault, a Quebec bus driver, was harassed and bullied incessantly by co-workers and he ended the bullying by committing suicide.

Policies can help eliminate bullying at work but policies are WORTHLESS if people don’t act on and uphold them. Don’t let words on a page, mean nothing. Make them come alive by every day behaviour and actions. You can help stop bullying at work.

 

P.S. If you need help with policy customization and development of forms and checklists ask us about our policy toolkit. If you need training on workplace bullying or workplace violence and harassment, including lunch and learns, please contact us.

Photo credit: Tagxedo (Try it out!)

Related blogs:   Bullying in the workplace series





HR must be leaders in stopping workplace bullying

Posted by Joanne on November 21, 2012 Comments Off

Forty per cent of Canadians have experienced one or more acts of workplace bullying at least once a week for a period of six months during a study conducted by Jacqueline Power, an assistant professor of management at the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business. (Globe & Mail, Dec ember 2011) Bullying in the workplace is often called the silent epidemic because people don’t report it and witnesses don’t speak up. Often the organization culture of the organization supports bullying behaviour especially in competitive or fast paced environments.  Read more over at EOList, where I am a guest blogger.

 

Check here for more posts on my Bullying in the Workplace series.





Bullying in the workplace – a legal perspective

Posted by Joanne on November 16, 2012 Comments Off

I interviewed Stuart Rudner, Partner with Miller Thomson law firm, about bullying in the workplace – a legal perspective. Stuart shared his  legal expertise on bullying the workplace in our first Google+ Hangout Live on Air Broadcast.

Interview Questions:

  1. Have you seen an increase in court cases involving bullying?
  2. Tell us what the risks are for companies not acting to stop bullying in the workplace?
  3. What laws, other than Workplace Violence & Harassment and Human Rights, touch on bullying in the workplace?
  4. Tell us more about constructive dismissal and how it may apply to bullying behaviour in the workplace?
  5. Can you comment on the $1.4 million court ruling in favour of a former Walmart employee who was bullied on the job?
  6. Could you recap the key points about bullying from a legal perspective for both the employee being bullied and the company?

P.S. Sometimes you just have to try something new (Hangout Live on Air Broadcast). You will notice that the video only shows me, and not both of us, except for the little screens at the bottom of the page. This is a learning opportunity for  next time. There’s great information shared, and we will get better with the technical aspects of Google Hangout Live on Air in the future.

Better to try something new and learn something, then to wait for perfection!

Related blogs:   Bullying in the workplace series





Bullying in the workplace – blog series

Posted by Joanne on November 15, 2012 Comments (2)

Table of Contents for the Bullying in the Workplace blog series.

Forty per cent of Canadians have experienced one or more acts of workplace bullying at least once a week for a period of six months during a study conducted by Jacqueline Power, an assistant professor of management at the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business. (Globe & Mail, December 2011) Bullying in the workplace is often called the silent epidemic because people don’t report it and witnesses don’t speak up. Often the organization culture of the organization supports bullying behaviour especially in competitive or fast paced environments. Because of this, statistics could actually be much higher than 40% especially if you include people who have witnessed bullying and are impacted by it. Perhaps part of the problem comes from the fact that people don’t realize what constitutes bullying behaviour in the first place.

Check back for more posts in this series about “Bullying in the workplace.”

Is a high performing bully manager ever acceptable?

A profile of a workplace bully, P.S. I forgive you bully

Tips for handling bullying behaviour in the workplace

Bullying in the workplace – a legal perspective (Google+ Hangout Live on Air Broadcast – video)

HR must be leaders in stopping workplace bullying Guest post over at EOList.

Tips for Creating an Anti-Bullying Policy

 

 

Related posts

Workplace violence and harassment legislation – Bill 168 (Ontario) – Q & A

Bully or effective leader?

Do you lead like an DHB (Decent Human Being)? (My post about an incident that inspired me to write this series on Bullying in the Workplace)

Managing is not bullying (Stuart Rudner’s post further to our Google+ Hangout Live interview)





Tips for handling bullying behaviour at work

Posted by Joanne on November 7, 2012 Comments Off

Bullying in the workplace is often called the silent epidemic because it occurs within an organization with sometimes no one reporting it or little done to stop it. In a 2010 study conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35% of the estimated 53.5 million Americans report being bullied at work and an additional 15% witness it. This means a whopping 50% of the workforce experiences bullying in one way or another. The time has come to bring bullying at work out into the open.

My previous posts focused on what bullying behaviour looks like, including an excellent profile of a bully by Dr. Lisa Barrow from her book, “In Darkness Light Dawns: Exposing Workplace Bullying.” This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Lisa Barrow about bullying, specifically focused on tips for handling bullying behaviour at work. Here is a summary of our discussion.


Tips for handling bullying behaviour at work

1. Educate yourself, review company policies, and learn about bullying behaviour. If you are experiencing what you believe to be bullying at work, educate yourself. Review the company policy on workplace violence and harassment. Conduct some research online to find out more about how a bully behaves. Are you experiencing any of the symptoms of bullying, such as increased anxiety, more frequent illness, and dreading going to work?

2. Talk to the person first, create boundaries, and set expectations. If you are the target of bullying behaviour and if you are comfortable doing so, talk to the bully about how the behaviour makes you feel. Give the person the benefit of the doubt as perhaps they don’t realize the impact of their behaviour. Have a conversation with the person and say something like, “I feel embarrassed when we are in a meeting, and you single me out and berate me in front of my peers.” By talking to the bully in a non-confrontational manner, you are setting boundaries and basically putting the bully on notice. You can set expectations by pointing out what needs to change, such as stating, “I appreciate feedback, but I need to receive it one-to-one and in a way that doesn’t make me feel embarrassed.” If you are too intimidated to speak to the person on your own, enlist a trusted person or someone in HR to help you with the conversation. If you set an agenda for your meeting, structure your thoughts, and even role play, you might feel more comfortable. If you still feel intimidated, bring a neutral 3rd party, to your meeting, but it is always best to try a one-to-one meeting first.

3. Document your interactions with the bully so that you have specific facts and dates. If the situation does not change you will have the information you need to escalate the issue. You will have documented numerous incidents like: “On November 4, in our team meeting, my manager yelled at me and called me stupid because I missed a point in my presentation. I felt so humiliated that I threw up after the meeting.”

4. Take the issue to your manager and to HR. If you have given the bully time to change, but the bullying behaviour continues, contact HR for help and let them know what is going on. By standing up for yourself and escalating the issue, you are making a powerful statement that you will not tolerate bullying behaviour. By taking action, you are protecting your emotional and physical well-being.

5. Talk to your doctor, make use of the company Employee Assistance Program, and create a support system. Your mind and body will be negatively impacted by bullying. You can also seek guidance from your spiritual advisor, and talk to your family members about what is going on. You need a strong support system in place to help you get through this dark time. This is very important because people who are the targets of bullying behaviour at work, left unchecked, can feel suicidal or even homicidal.

6. Seek legal advice. If the bullying behaviour does not stop and your manager or HR does not take the matter seriously, and the organization does nothing to stop the behaviour, you know you have tried everything. The next step is to go outside the company and seek legal advice. You may have a case for constructive dismissal. The organization can’t dismiss your claims, if you leave your job.

7. Leave your job. If nothing is being done, this might be the only recourse to protect your mind and body. If the leaders are bullying each other and employees, it is likely no action will be taken to resolve your claims. The culture of the organization needs to change and that comes from the top. Leaders in the organization have a responsibility to create a safe place to work. In Ontario we have workplace violence and harassment legislation in place because research shows that unchecked bullying behaviour can escalate to violence, and mental health issues. So ultimately if you have tried everything and the bullying continues, you may have no option but to leave. That will be good for you in the long run and there will be negative repercussions for the company.

HR needs to take a leadership role

HR needs to take a leadership role in eliminating and preventing bullying behaviour in the workplace. Sadly, Dr. Barrows noted:

“I have been very disappointed in how HR has handled bullying situations that have come to my attention. HR tells the person being bullied, “It is just a personality problem.” or “Oh, that’s just the way Bob is.” Sometimes the target of bullying might even be perceived as “weak.” Because bullying is so subjective, what might impact one person won’t necessarily impact another. When people don’t get the support they need from HR and the organization, they begin to feel hopeless. Hopelessness is when feelings of suicide or homicide start.”

And Dr. Barrow knows because she has conducted ongoing research on bullying in the workplace. In her 2009 survey of about 300 adults, 6% of those who said they were being bullied at work, actually considered suicide or homicide. In her 2011 survey of 450 people, 10% of those who said they were being bullied at work have considered suicide or homicide. Unfortunately, the negative impact of bullying appears to be rising, versus declining.

HR has a very important role in eliminating bullying behaviour from the workplace. No issues brought to HR’s attention should be dismissed. A proper policy should be in place, and an investigation should take place. HR can be leaders in the challenge of eliminating bullying in the workplace. But these are topics for future posts on bullying in the workplace. Next week, bullying at work – a legal perspective.


Related blogs:   Bullying in the workplace series

 






 Joanne Royce



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