Bullying at Workplace – What Should an Employer Do

It is crucial to ensure safety and harmony at a workplace. A major perspective in this concern is to deploy effective measures in order to avoid and counter bullying at the workplace. It is one of the major challenges that any employer should be ready to tackle professionally. It wouldn’t only resolve conflicts at hand but it will also help in converting the workplace’s environment into worker-friendly one.

Bullying allegations can bring ample amount of worry for employers due to the reason that bullying can violate several legal rights of individuals; for example, bullying allegations may include violation of equality act or breach of contract which can lead to psychiatric injuries.

Here, one should understand what bullying is. However, it is a bit unfortunate that bullying cannot be defined from legal perspective. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has, however, provided good details that describe bullying as an action which can be defined as insulting, intimidating, humiliating and offensive in order to make the recipient suffer emotionally and psychologically.

Although harassment is commonly considered as a bullying practice but its legal definition doesn’t say so. According to Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and Equality Act 2010, harassment is the activity which can create disturbance at more than one occasion. Elaborately saying, harassment is the act of creating disturbance and hostile environment for a specific individual by tempering with his/her specific characteristics.

These kinds of behaviors, whether or not they fall under the category of bullying, need to stop at workplaces. For that purpose, the employers need to play their parts fairly. However, this is to be ensured that every person is being given equal chance to express his/her stance when the situation occurs.

To tackle the bullying allegation, employers need to take certain aspects into consideration. Some of them are as under.

Policy to Tackle Bullying and Harassment

It could be helpful if employer decides to implement a policy regarding harassment and bullying. Here, it has to be ensured that policy is being written using clear instructions and extensive details. Since there is a lot that can be associated with bullying therefore the terms should explain different behaviors and actions.

The policy has to explain the organization’s stance towards bullying allegations. Moreover, there should be proper guidance on how an individual can file a complaint. Furthermore, the process of investigating the complaint should also be mentioned in the policy.

Willingness to Pay Proper Attention to Sensitive Matters

The employer’s reputation for being careful in sensitive matters encourages the individuals to put aside their fear and discuss everything they’d be facing. Sometimes, maintaining confidentiality might not be possible. In that case, employer needs to be very clear with the individuals involved in investigation.

Another way to maintain confidentiality is to anonymize the statements or complaints. However, the intensity of warning shouldn’t be compromised here.

The people involved in harassment case should be told about keeping the matter to themselves. Moreover, a clear instruction should be given, forbidding everyone from taking any action in retaliation.

Handling Difficult Conversations

Talking to the individuals involved in bullying and harassment cases are always the difficult conversations. Especially, the complainant needs to be eased in order to have stress free conversation. Showing sympathy to the complainants can help them to express everything they feel. Furthermore, the employer also needs to approach the accused in an informal way. That way, the accused would get a fair chance.

Providing Proper Support

A legal proceeding might get initiated if the harassment or bullying case is not handled properly by the employer. That case would be enough to put the organization’s reputation at stake. Hence, it would be the good practice to get proper consultation from lawyer services. It would help employer to adhere to the legal obligations.

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