Bullying or harassment may seem like a phase that everyone has gone through in their teen years. However, this may be true, but it is still alive and well in adulthood and occurring in the workplace. According to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, “Research suggests that nearly 40 percent of the U.S. workers have experienced bullying in the workplace” (2017). This is a significant rate that should raise alarming concerns amongst organizations. An organization should provide its workforce with job security, meaningful work, safe conditions of employment, equitable financial compensation, and a satisfactory quality of work life (Fottler, M. D. 2015, p.20). Although the Title VII of the Civil Act Rights Act prohibits sexual harassment, it is not certainly illegal to be bullied.
It is the responsibility of Human Resources to ensure that the working environment remain a professional atmosphere where all employees feel protected and comfortable enough to be able to attend work every day. Failure to committing to providing a safe place for employees can impact the lives of individuals and the organization. For example, “Evidence shows that bullying can cause not only absenteeism and lost productivity, but also depression, sleeplessness, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and PTSD” (Gleason, M. J. 2017). If Human Resources fail to address complaints about bullying in their workforce, it can negatively impact the work culture. Organizations will not be able to attract and retain the number, type, and quality of professionals required to deliver quality health services if the internal work environment is unsuitable (Fottler, M. D. 2015, p.20). In order to combat bullying in an organization, Human Resources need to identify acts of bullying, underline the organizational risk that may arise, and develop prevention strategies to implement.
Bullying isn’t something that has sporadically emerge itself into the workplace. The Joint Commission states that “The Workplace Bullying Institute estimates that 65.6 million U.S. workers are directly impacted by or have witnessed bullying” (2016). It is evident, that organizations have failed their employees. In order to address this issue, human resources need to become familiar with and identify acts of workplace bullying to understanding. The term bullying is “defined as a repeated and enduring act which involves an imbalance of power between the victim and the perpetrator and includes an element of subjectivity on the part of the victim in terms of how they view the behavior and the effect of the behavior” (Bartlett, J. E., & Bartlett, M. E. 2011, p.72).
Acts of bullying can be in the form of direct and indirect behaviors such as imitation, threats, humiliation, exclusion, and isolation. The aggressor typically preys on individuals who are incapable of defending themselves. Persistence makes bullying particularly harmful and corrosive, wearing down targets’ defenses, social support, and health (Lutgen, P. E.,2010, p.345). If this level of persistence continues to occur, the organization is sure to face turmoil. Human resources need to develop some type of assessment tool to analyze the work culture so that it can eliminate the threats and diffuse the work environment accordingly.
Bullying in the workplace can adversely impact the organization in many ways. Initially, a decrease in productivity performance from the employee can certainly arise in a time of emotional distress. If Human Resources or management do not take the necessary actions to address and resolve the issues of bullying within their workplace, this can now turn into a hostile situation. In the International Journal of Business and Science, it stated “In particular, deviant behavior is a potential result when employees perceive injustice or a lack of resolution in their employment circumstances” (2015). As a result, there is a potential probability that an employee will leave the organization. The ultimate loss for the organization is to lose an employee who is a value asset to the company. In this case, not only does the individual that is being bullied suffers from emotional or mental damage, the organization can also suffer from lost financially.
The employee may want to seek out justice in their own defense by filing a lawsuit against the organization. First, employers may bear direct expenses in the defense of lawsuits as well as additional worker’s compensation and health-related complaints filed by employees (McDonald, D. S. N., Brown, E. D., & Smith, K. F. 2015, p.28). The “Health Workplace Bill” has been adopted to serve this need. In general, the Healthy Workplace Bill aims to serve as the leading status-blind legislation that would provide a legal means for employees to sue in state trial courts for legitimate, damaging workplace bullying that is conducted with malice (McDonald, D. S. N., Brown, E. D., & Smith, K. F. 2015, p.29). In order to win this case successfully, the plaintiff must prove psychological or physical harm. Unfortunately, this bill has only been adopted in twenty nine states. It is difficult understand why there is an adopted law in only a select state when “It is more common than sexual harassment, and can be direct physical, verbal or indirect bullying” (Joint Commission, 2016). For the remainder of the Unites States, employees will not have the right to exercise civil lawsuit as some form of justice when the organization did not due its due diligence to resolve the matter,
Leadership and management should consider organizational policies to address bullying within their organization for the safety of their employees and their business. Adopting a policy that will strictly enforce a no tolerance statute would ensure a sense of security. The policy should specifically describe actions and behavioral characteristics that define bullying. Corrective actions and minimizing the fear of retaliation should also be included in the policy. Once implemented, it is incumbent upon management to indorse and encourage appropriate workplace behavior through modeling appropriate actions and reinforcement of such policies (McDonald, D. S. N., Brown, E. D., & Smith, K. F. 2015, p.30). For example, all staff trainings should be held at least every fiscal year to help share the impact about the effects that can happen when bullying occurs. These trainings should be helpful in providing procedural methods to take if someone has become a victim to bullying.
Ensuring employees that all incidents reported will remain confidential will give individuals encouragement to come forward. Employees will feel more valued and respected when they know that their employer is committed to providing a safe and professional environment for their workers (Gleason, 2017). Leadership should also be trained in how deal and respond to complaints once they have been reported. In addition, a mental help program should also be initiated to continue to show ongoing support for the individuals who have gone through bullying and need help getting passed it. Unfortunately, depending on the severity of the confrontation that occurred, it can cause disorders such as anxiety or depression. In order to address employee health concerns, some U.S. businesses have implemented preventive health measures for employee wellness by providing medical services at their respective places of employment. (McDonald, D. S. N., Brown, E. D., & Smith, K. F. (2015, p.27). Although we cannot avoid every occurrence of bullying, what an organization can do is assist an individual in their healing process.
In order to prevent bullying in an organization, human resources need to address the acts of bullying, consider the organizational risk, and develop a strategic plan that will provide preventative measures to implement into the organization. It is significant to use the necessary resources to control the effects of workplace bullying to avoid the damaging impact such as mental health issues and civil lawsuits against the organization. Millions of individuals across the world are going through an uncomfortable period in their work careers and personal lives due to bullying. It is the obligation of the organization to provide a safe and protective work culture for their employees. It first begins with a solid foundation to be created to build a preventative program. Educating the entire organization on polices and procedures on addressing workplace bullying is essential. Providing additional supportive resources for employees who have been victimized is necessary to help regain their trust by showing them that they are of value to the organization. Lawmakers should consider enforcing “The Healthcare Workbill” within all states of United States in addition to a prohibited law. It would provide an extra layer of protection for anyone who has undergone this torment. It would also indicate that this issue should be taken seriously just like any other laws and policies that are enacted. All in all, employees need to be protected at all cost.
- Bartlett, J. E., & Bartlett, M. E. (2011). Workplace Bullying: An Integrative Literature Review. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 13(1), 69–84. doi: 10.1177/1523422311410651
- Fottler, M. D. (2015). Human Resources in Healthcare: Managing for Success. Chicago, IL: Health Administration Press.
- Gleason, M. J. (2017, December 13). HR’s Role in Managing Bullying and Harassment at Work. Retrieved April 2, 2020, from https://www.cupahr.org/
- The Joint Commission. (2016). Bullying Has No Place in Health Care, (24). Retrieved from www.jointcommission.org
- Lutgen, P. E. (2010). Active and Passive Accomplices: The Communal Character of Workplace Bullying. International Journal of Communication, 4, 343–373.
- McDonald, D. S. N., Brown, E. D., & Smith, K. F. (2015). International Journal of Business and Social Science. Workplace Bullying: A Review of Its Impact on Businesses, Employees, and the Law, 6(2), 26-31. doi: 10.30845/ijbss