Tuesday, October 4, 2022

What are you doing to address Bullying Prevention Month in your workplace?

October is Bullying Prevention Month.

Over 90% of employees say that they have been bullied by a co-worker or manager.

Yet, unless a bully is harassing someone because of a protected class (race, sex, age, disability, religion, national origin, age…) bullying is probably lawful.

As the Supreme Court has famously said, our workplace discrimination laws are not meant to be a "general civility code." In layman's terms, our laws allow people to be jerks to each other at work as long as it's not because of a protected reason.

The question, however, is not whether the law protects the bullied, but instead what you should be doing about it in your workplace.

🧐 If you want to crush employees' morale, cause debilitating emotional distress, and open your business's front door to labor unions, then let bullies go unchecked.

🧐 If you want to lose well-performing, productive workers, then allow them to be pushed out the door by intolerable managers, supervisors, or co-workers.

🧐 If you want to be sued by every employee who is looked at funny or at whose direction a harsh word is uttered (some of whom will be in a protected class), then continue to tolerate abusive employees.

🧐 If you want state legislatures to pass workplace bullying legislation, then continue to ignore the issue in your business.

The reality is that even if companies do not take this issue seriously, their employees will. What can you do to protect your workplace from this misconduct and all of the problems that it will cause?

1️⃣ Review current policies. Most handbooks already have policies and procedures in place that deal with workplace bullying. Do you have an open-door policy? A complaint policy? A standards-of-conduct policy? If so, your employees already know that they can go to management with any concerns—bullying included—and seek intervention.

2️⃣ Take complaints seriously. These policies are only as good as how they are enforced. Whether or not illegal, reports of bullying should be treated like any other harassment complaint. You should promptly conduct an investigation and implement appropriate corrective action to remedy the bullying.

3️⃣ If you see it, do something about it. Bullies that go unchecked and uncorrected become empowered to bully more. You cannot let this happened. You must let them know, as soon as you notice the misbehavior, that such misconduct is contra to company policy and culture, that it will not be tolerated, and that if continues the employee will be terminated.

In other words, take seriously bullying in your workplace. Or, to put in more simply and succinctly:

Don’t be an a-hole!

The rest will take care of itself.