In the workplace, bullying is a topic that is often overlooked. Not addressing the topic of workplace bullying can be threatening in terms of productivity and the mental health of employees. One of the best ways to keep bullying out of the office is creating and implementing an anti-bullying policy. To ensure that your policy is effective, make sure it contains the following components:
Define what bullying is
You can reiterate to your employees time and time again that bullying is not accepted in the workplace, but it won’t be enough. Within your employee handbook, create an in-depth list of what actions constitute bullying. Although there are many examples of workplace bullying, make sure your definition of bullying incorporates these actions:
- Physical Abuse: Pushing, tripping, assaulting, or tampering with personal belongings
- Verbal Abuse: Yelling, namecalling, gossiping or spreading rumors
- Exclusion: Discluding a person from work-related actives or withholding necessary information
Outline the consequences of bullying
Along with the definition, you will want to write out what disciplinary actions will be taken in the event of an incident. Low-level bullying may be better considered as workplace conflict. If this is the case, then the issue can be addressed locally.
However, a complaint that details serious allegations, such as ongoing bullying behaviors, will need to be fully investigated. Consequences for low-level instances may include mandatory anti-bullying training meanwhile serious allegations may lead to suspension or immediate termination.
Identify a reporting process
In the case of bullying, make it clear to your employees what avenues they must pursue in order to report an incident. Make sure to encourage all employees to come forward as soon as possible in order to prevent any future abuse. Ensure to your employees that the reporting process is treated with confidentiality, meaning that the information involving the claim will be only discussed only on a need to know basis.
Require everything in writing
When presented with a bullying claim, get written statements from both the victim and the accused bully. If applicable, get witness statements to help support or oppose the claim. This physical documentation can protect the company from liability or wrongful termination charges if the claim turns out to be true.
Putting an anti-bullying policy in place is the first step that a company can take to keep bullying out of the office. Not making any accommodation for bullies helps establish acceptable behavior in the workplace and create an environment that is beneficial for all employees.