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Manage and reduce workplace bullying

Workplace bullying is common across offices and industries, and it can be damaging not only to the victims, but also to their coworkers and the company as a whole.

HR consultant Donna Morano, from Brown Consulting, and Ceridian's LifeWorks Training and Communication Manager Lisa Bull talked to HRM about how best to approach bullying when it happens, and what steps HR can take to prevent it happening in the first place.

Video transcript below:

Caitlin Nobes, HRM TV
Caitlin Nobes:
 Workplace bullying increases turnover, absenteeism and employee stress.  So what can you do about it?  I’m Caitlin Nobes.  You are watching HRM TV.

The word bully comes with images of  schoolyard brutes and catty cliques.  But the workplace bully can be subtler and more insidious.  From leaving people out of important messages to sabotaging work, bullying takes all kinds of forms.  So how can managers make sure they know what’s happening in their workplace.  Experts say it’s key to know your employees, so you notice behavioural changes.

Donna Morano, Brown Consulting
Donna Morano:
 There are people that are very obviously being bullied whether you hear it directly, you can see that they are not performing at the same level that they were performing at before. Perhaps they are taking sick days on Mondays and Fridays and they just don’t want to come in to work and that’s a change in their behaviour.  The other way too by knowing your employees is you can see the folks who aren’t going to come forward and are uncomfortable talking about it.  

Caitlin Nobes:  Bullying has a negative impact on morale, attendance and ultimately productivity. So it’s vital to take the right steps to reduce its effect.  But how can companies best manage workplace bullying and hopefully prevent it happening in the first place, from the right training to making sure you have the right policies.  Experts say the first step is to ditch the denial.  

Lisa Bull, Ceridian Canada
Lisa Bull:
 I think the best sort of foundational  piece is to acknowledge that it happens.  I know that some organisations feel like, oh it wouldn’t happen in an organisation like ours or an industry like ours and in my experience and experience of the work we do, we see it everywhere.  It doesn’t matter how big the company is, how small it is, what they do, we have worked and supported organisations across the board in this area.

Caitlin Nobes:  Bull emphasizes that while bullying and harassment are related, they differ in legal protection.  Where employees are protected by law against harassment, managing workplace bullying is usually an internal issue.  So what practical steps can HR take to manage the problem?

Donna Morano:  The first is to train your employees when they join you.  Make it part of your orientation or your onboarding program and really educate people about what’s acceptable and not acceptable in the work environment.  As a leader first of all it’s to walk the talk and to really treat people with respect, you know, people really look to their leader to set the tone for their team, so that’s probably the most important.

Lisa Bull:  Having policies in place is critical.  Having policies that speak directly to workplace bullying and or harassment or workplace violence also is usually covered as well, making sure that not only do you have the policies but that people understand them.  

Caitlin Nobes:  Both our experts emphasize the need to act quickly and effectively to reduce the impact on morale and engagement.  I’m Caitlin Nobes, thanks for watching HRM TV.

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