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How can we nip workplace bullying in the bud?

by on
in The HR Specialist Forum

Question: “We've had some discord on our plant floor lately: name-calling, insults and a couple of minor shoving matches. When I spoke with one of our foremen, he said a couple of guys have been purposely needling and picking fights. This sounds like bullying to me. What kind of policies can we invoke to put an end to this nonsense? No one has been hurt yet, but it's taking a toll on morale.” — GRL, Ohio


Comments

This could fall under harassment especially if someone reports it as intimating or creating a hostile work environment. Do you have a harassment policy? The fact that it was reported at all should warrant some type of sit down session with these individuals to explain the harassment policy. The foremans should not be allowing this. That could cause issues later if a formal complaint is filed since they did nothing to stop it.

I agree with Janelle. Insure your employees have signed an "anti-harassment policy" and hold them to it! Take immediate, assertive action and make certain the guilty parties are aware this behavior will not be tolerated and continuing it will result in termination.

If you haven't already done it, do an internal investigation to confirm the validity of the name calling, who was involved, etc., so you have documentation of the proactive measures your company has taken as part of your defense should there be anything filed against the company, and especially if workplace violence should occur in the future. Consider doing Employee Conduct training now for the work group, and include the training in New Employee Orientation sessions. Our company took these measures, and there has been a marked decrease in this type of misconduct.

We instruct our employees to let the individual know that they are offended by "xxxx" and ask them to stop and inform them that if it doesn't stop, they will be reported to the office. At times there is a fair amount of coaching to get an employee to say something to the bully, but once said, the activity usually stops. If it doesn't and it comes back to management, we step in. Consequences vary depending on the issue. At least this is the preferred method. Of course, there are times that immediate management action is required. Management cannot afford to stick their head in the sand on this type of activity.

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