Preventing Bullying: Policies (Part Two)
In research conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, many employees have reported experiencing or witnessing bullying behavior in the workplace. In the 2017 study, 63% of U.S. workers surveyed indicated they were aware of abusive behavior in the workplace. Nineteen percent of workers indicated they had been bullied, and another nineteen percent indicated they personally witnessed the behavior.
Even more telling is the gender makeup of bullies and the bullied. According to the study, seventy percent of the perpetrators were men. Sixty six percent of targeted workers were women. Also interesting is that in those cases where a female was the bully, the gender of the bullied was heavily female (67%). Thus, through these studies, we know that the bullied are overwhelmingly female regardless of the gender of the bully. This should serve as a warning sign about the potential for bullying to transform into gender harassment.
Which brings us to the point of this blog post: What should a preventative policy address? Organizations that seek to prevent the behavior must include it in policy, and train their workforce on appropriate behavior.
First, organizations should address the different ways that bullying can take place. Bullying can be:
>Verbal (ridicule, humiliation, insults, hurtful comments).
>Physical (pushing/shoving, kicking, tripping, assault, damaging property)
>Gestures (flipping off, "slitting throat" or hanging motion, other physical gestures that threaten or demean)
>Exclusion (ignoring, excluding from work activities)
>Cyberbullying (offensive emails, social media trolling, offensive language or comments online)
Then, organizations should provide clear examples of the types of behavior that will be deemed "bullying." Some examples might include:
>Shouting at employees in public
>Cutting people off or refusing to allow them to speak
>Personal insults denigrating a person in public
>Constant criticism minimally related to job performance
>Deliberately interfering with an employee's use of equipment or tools needed to work
>Spreading negative gossip or rumors about individuals
>Defacing or destroying personal property
>Mobbing (multiple employees ganging up on an individual in insulting or harassing)
Given the above parameters, organizations can think of many types of behavior that they want to prevent in the workplace. The goal should always be kept in mind: prevent mistreatment of individuals that can lead to reduced engagement, high turnover, inefficiency, and ultimately preventing unlawful harassment.
* There are many examples of language that can be included in readily available policies. See, e.g. SHRM's sample policy: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/policies/pages/cms_018350.aspx and organizations that have published their policies: https://www.sandstormgold.com/_resources/csr/SSL-Workplace-Bullying-and-Harassment-Policy-_Statement.pdf and https://campuspol.berkeley.edu/Policies/Bullying.pdf and https://esc.edu/policies/?search=cid%3D111522