By Perminus Wainaina
When you ask the CEO and top management, most will tell you bullying does not exist in their organizations. If you pose the same question to employees, most will agree they have been harassed at work in one point or another.
When a company is harassment-free, the employees concentrate on their job, which in turn leads to the organization’s success. As a result, you should have measures that don’t tolerate any form of harassment in the workplace.
What are the most common types of bullying?
Before we get to how you can tackle harassment in your organization, let’s first look at the common types of bullying. These include;
- Spreading malicious rumors about a colleague or employee,
- Unfair treatment of a co-worker,
- Regularly undermining an employee’s efforts and work
- Denying an employee from accessing company resources –including training and promotion opportunities.
How do you deal with bullying?
There are measures that you can put in place to end all forms of harassment in your organization. These measures include;
1. Setting up anti-bullying policies and procedures
According to The Employment Act –Section 12, any organization with 50 or more employees is required to have grievance handling procedures. While this is not a requirement for growing organizations with less than 50 employees, you should still set up these procedures in act of good practice.
The policies may differ from one organization to another, however, the objective should be to ensure every employee is covered. The policies should also cater for easy and efficient reporting of harassment and bullying cases from both a colleague or supervisor.
2. Encourage employees to report bullying cases
More than half of all harassment cases in the workplace go unreported. In order to create a culture that incorporates everyone, you should encourage the employees to report when they face harassment or bullying.
One effective way of creating a conducive working environment is by ensuring bullying stops, at whatever cost.
For example, would you rather have an environment where all employees have a place to grow and thrive or one where one top-performing employee bullies the colleagues? You can also read this article I wrote on how to manage difficult employees.
3. Act on all complaints
An employee can either make a formal complaint or they can make an informal one. In an informal complaint, the employee doesn’t want to go on record. However, whether the complaint is formal or informal, you should follow it up formally.
Follow the procedure as you would a formal complaint.
In some cases, the complaint may not be direct. For example, you may in a casual setting, like an end of year party, when one employee mentions they have faced bullying at work. When you resume to the office, you should investigate the case by talking to the employee and wisely following it up with some of the colleagues.
4. Be confidential and professional
Whenever an employee reports a harassment case, you should follow it up professionally. For example, you shouldn’t allow your feelings to get ahead of you. Whether you like or dislike either party, you should remain professional.
Emotional Intelligence can help you remain impartial. For instance, you’ll be able to empathize with the complainant and exercise self-control with the defendant.
Additionally, the case should remain confidential until you get to the bottom of it and have actionable results. Only notify the parties that need to be involved in the process.
Finally, note that bullying and harassment can take many forms in the workplace. To rid your organization from bullying, talk to a few employees, or carry out a survey and find out what forms or harassment are in your workplace. Once you know this, you’ll be at a better position to tackle and end harassment and bullying.
Perminus Wainaina is an experienced HR Practioner with over 15 years experience in executive recruitment and selection, training, performance management, and Kenyan labour laws.
He has consulted for firms such as Safaricom Sacco, Oxfam, Un Women, Pacis Insurance, Windsor Golf, Muthaiga Country Club, etc. Currently, he represents the private sector at KEBS in the HR standardization committee.