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The role of HR in workplace bullying
Organizational Cultures

The role of HR in workplace bullying

Aishwarya Sinha Ray
July 17, 2023

Bullying and harassment, manipulation, verbal abuse or sexual orientation - Not only are these unacceptable at workplace but are universally inappropriate. Whether you work for a successfully established organisation or a startup, corporates altogether have zero tolerance for workplace bullying. Proper committees and panels are devised and set up in which HRs & members of the leadership team are a part of. Every employee receives an official email that explains the legal actions that will be taken against an exploiter.

Here’s something must always keep in mind to ensure a safe work environment for physical health and mental health

How can Human Resources deal with workplace bullying ?

Workplace bullying is a situation in which someone in the company intentionally tries to hurt, isolate or discourage some other team member. It is not limited to physical harm but it also involved mental, emotional and psychological misbehaviour. Some may ignore certain kinds of bad behaviors as the typical work culture that they have. While it’s okay to be aggressive and passionate about work but one just cannot behave with somebody else in an unacceptable manner.

As it is said, there is a fine line between an aggressive culture and bullying. However, in no way we must try to hurt someone or encourage someone else doing it.

Workplace bullying: How can HR fight it | peopleHum

Events that come under workplace bullying

As I mentioned previously, there is a fine line that differentiates an aggressive work culture from any form of bullying, we must focus on what is unsuitable. Let’s list them one-by-one.

  1. Intentionally trying to play blame-game against someone
  2. Socialising with everybody around but single out someone in particular
  3. Constantly criticising their work in a group instead of giving personal feedback
  4. Making inappropriate jokes and passing unfriendly remarks
  5. Contrary to the previous point, constantly and deliberately assigning additional workload
  6. Setting unrealistic targets to create toxic pressure
  7. Tampering with a colleague's personal or work belongings
  8. Taking advantage of a senior position and not letting the juniors voice their opinions
  9. Demanding unruly favours that are offensive and not professional
  10. Spreading rumours about or bad mouthing a colleague
  11. Taking credit for someone else’s work and intimidating that person
  12. Not approving a team member’s application for leave or promotion

There could be other instances as well in which an employee feels offended, disregarded or undervalued. What’s important is to fight against these reasons for harassment in the workplace and create strict policies that discourage such bullying behavior.

5 ways to shut down workplace bullying

Workplace bullying could happen to anyone. Specially when you newly join a company, you might feel secluded or someone might see you as a competition. It’s human nature so, it’s quite normal to be feeling this way. However, if you face workplace violence or something similar but don’t do anything about it then eventually it will create a bigger problem. As much as you may hate going forward, here are a few measures you must take -

  1. If you are comfortable speaking to the person directly then go ahead and have a polite one-on-one discussion. Most of the times the bullying behaviour is unintentional and just casual banter. Communicating might just solve the problem right there and then.
  2. Talk to your direct reporting manager and report the bullying.
  3. If your direct reporting manager is the one troubling you then go to the HR or the next person, who is senior to your reporting manager.
  4. Discuss with a colleague, whom you trust. Tell them how you feel about the bullying at work and check how serious the situation is.
  5. Don’t retaliate. If you are having trouble then try and sort it out with the concerned person directly. If not then talk to someone else about it but reprisal is not the best way to go about it.

What do you do as an HR to ensure employee safety

As an HR, employee engagement and safety becomes one of the most important responsibilities for you. This sounds easy but is difficult to execute. Therefore, try and settle down the situation in the most cooperative and balanced manner.

  1. Don’t let the situation go out of hand. If you see the early sign of danger, encourage the employees to talk it.
  2. Communication is key. Sit the concerned employees together and try to have a conversation with them together.
  3. Encourage the team members to hang out together more often. Talk to the other team members to try and make the situation better. When there is a group of people to help it becomes a lot easier to manage a sensitive situation.
  4. In case the situation gets too severe, speak to the higher management right away. Delaying too much might not be the best strategy.

Also read : How HR should deal with Oscars-style chaos at work

In the end, we all go to work to grow and help the company grow. No individual can do it alone therefore, it asks for a constructive team effort. Minor disagreements and clashes are natural to occur. There can be situations of miscommunication, haughty behaviour and disorganisation. However, there is always a way to mitigate such events in a mature way instead of resorting to any type of bullying in the workplace.

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