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Stop workplace bullying by training your staff

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in Centerpiece,Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

bullyStarting Jan. 1, a new state law will require large California employers to provide anti-bullying training to employees. It’s a good idea regardless of where you do business.

According to surveys conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute and the Employment Law Alliance, between 33% and 44% of employees have experienced bullying at work.

Victims can suffer physical or emotional harm that interferes with their professional and personal lives. Employers suffer the costs associated with decreased attendance, increased medical and insurance claims, legal claims and lost productivity and opportunity costs resulting from demoralized and distracted workers.

Stopping workplace bullies isn’t just about protecting employees. It’s also a sound risk-management strategy because bullying can create harassment liability for employers.

Anti-bullying training topics

Anti-bullying training should cover the same topics your anti-bullying policy does:

Definition of bullying: A sample policy from the American Bar Association defines it as “persistent, malicious, unwelcome, severe and pervasive mistreatment that harms, intimidates, offends, degrades or humiliates an employee, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment.”

Zero tolerance: Make clear that it violates company policy to bully co-workers or subordinates. Employees should understand that bullies will be disciplined.

Reporting processes: Ensure employees understand how to report bullying. You can use existing sexual harassment reporting mechanisms to report bullying behavior.

Give employees more than one way to report it. According to several studies, supervisor harassment of subordinates accounts for almost half of workplace bullying incidents. It is important for employees to know they can report bullying to HR or other supervisors higher up in the organization.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Oralia November 5, 2014 at 5:34 pm

I hate to agree, but it’s true. I is almost impossible to fight workplace bullying if upper management backs it. I was bullied for 4 horrible years, and here’s the crazy part, the bully is in her 70s. This woman was relentless. She was extraordinarily unreasonable and came after me like a badger. I had no where to turn because the boss protected her, as if she were a dear relative. We had countless meetings, there were many witnesses, and it even reached our Office of Workforce Equality. They deemed it as “ot justifiable cause” or something of that nature. This was not said to me, but one of our supervisors. They did not even acknowledge my e-mails. The Union informed me that they do not touch older people and hung up. I was so unjustly treated. My boss suggested I go to EAP because perhaps, I was upset because of some personal matters, rather than that “kind and sweet old lady”. I am still emotionally wrecked over this experience. It would not have been so bad if she wasn’t backed by management. Every time I complained, I was treated like scum.

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Jacob/Kelly/Marc/Jonathan November 3, 2014 at 10:46 pm

I would take this seriously except a person from Jerry Brown’s inner circle bullied my family so viciously as to cause us to quit employment. Current laws didn’t stop sexual herassment. Why would training to prevent bullying stop powerful people from doing whatever the hell they want.

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KiKi d March 12, 2016 at 1:53 am

You’re very right. Current laws and institutional policies are useful unless they are rigorously enforced- and, sadly, we know that aren’t.

Those with power who abuse people with less/little no power will continue- just like it always has- until it’s not longer socially acceptable to do so; whenever that happens- and for what ever reason it does,we might possibly see a chance. Definitely not a true and genuine …superficial like all the others

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