Protecting Your Employees and Enterprise Against the Hidden Threat of Workplace Bullying
Each year, workers’ compensation, sexual harassment and discrimination claims and lawsuits start with bullying. Employees play a critical role in helping your organization to understand the implications and develop and implement strategies to eliminate this ugly hazard. A session at the RIMS 2018 Annual Conference discussed how to protect your employees from hidden workplace violence. The speakers included Kendra Schropp, Director of Risk Management and Safety, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina and Jeffrey Adelson, Partner, Adelson, Testan & Brundo.
Characteristics reach from obvious to subtle and include ongoing name calling or derogatory statements aimed at specific individuals, questioning effort/commitment, undermining accomplishments of individuals or work groups, and unjustified demotion, removal or shifting of responsibilities. Workplace bullying can be the gateway to many different workplace lawsuits. There are no specific laws prohibiting workplace bullying.
Characteristics also include undo pressure of employee or groups of employees, this includes excessive hours or weekends, beyond reasonable expectations for position, or irrespective of departmental workload. Threats by supervisor for failing to meet unrealistic work expectations including termination, write up or even demotion.
Tell-tale organizational enablers:
- reward bully with promotion, bonus, salary increases for getting results, motivation workers, and being an achiever.
- ignoring worker complaints about “top performing” supervisors or coworkers.
- aggressive corporate culture focusing on bottom-line.
- non-existent or inadequate employee reporting or feedback mechanisms.
- no employee/supervisor training on respect in the workplace.
Bullying and discrimination
There is a need to watch for patterns of inappropriate actions, behaviors or comments by workers at any level aimed at individuals of: certain gender, race, age group, religion, disability, and ethnicity. The result from these patterns ends up that employees are ostracized from company/departmental events, meetings, recreational activities, etc. Google scholar is a website you can go to search law and medicine. Hundreds of files showed up on a simple workplace bullying search but most were associated with age discrimination, race discrimination, sexual harassment, disability, etc.
Global legal/regulatory trends
- U.S.: Last “Western” democracy to seek prevention of workplace bullying through training and legislation
- Sweden: First country – 1994
- UK initiated training in 2004
- Next: Australia, China, Japan, Singapore, Canada, several EU countries
Trends have changed in restaurants over the past few years and there are fewer employees doing the same amount of work as years prior. The truth is some of those employees that are overworked are filing workers’ comp claims, leaving the company, or writing bad reviews on websites. It’s important for employees to feel safe and want to return to work the next day. Employees should not fear the workplace.
California is the first state to require anti bullying training at the workplace. The manager/supervisor who perform yearly reviews for employees should be trained not to use these reviews as a source of bullying. All items recorded in reviews should be related to the company and business tasks they perform. Training helps alleviate the confusion and issues with workplace bullying.