When thinking about bullying you may think about children bullying other children but, unfortunately, bullying can extend into adulthood and can take place in the workplace. This can involve acts or comments delivered verbally, by phone, email, text, via social media or messaging that mentally isolate another person or persons in the workplace. Bullying can hurt others’ feelings and lower their self-esteem, and this is not what you want in a workplace. Workplace bullying may take place between two people, or it can involve groups. Sometimes it can be subtle, but it can be blatant too.

Investigating

If you receive an allegation of bullying from an employee or they raise a grievance about bullying, it is essential to carry out a full and fair investigation. Using a neutral person to conduct such an investigation is the ideal scenario. Matters like this can be very sensitive and even more so if it involves one of your leaders. At HR Think, our consultants are professionally trained and experienced in workplace investigations so do get in touch if you feel HR Think can help you deal with an allegation.
Failing to carry out a proper investigation and ultimately a mishandling of a bullying allegation could land you in the employment tribunal, so it is important to take allegations seriously. If you do have to attend an employment tribunal the court will look at how you handled the matter so your process for the initial investigation is key.

Culture

How approachable are your leaders? Would a bullied individual feel comfortable reporting bullying behaviour to their manager? Is the leader the problem? Are they setting one of their team up to fail or are they regularly shouting at employees? Leaders could be blocking an employee’s progress within the organisation or maybe making threats about the employee’s job security. Learning to recognise where there is bullying behaviour and dealing with it can improve the wellbeing of your staff and improve your workplace culture.

Spot the signs

There are many things that can trigger bullying. Is it a personality clash or actual bullying? Do you have the confidence to deal with an issue of bullying? Is a member of your team being scapegoated when errors are not actually caused by them? Is there unacceptable aggressive behaviour from one employee to another?
I can help you manage these types of situations by providing coaching. How do you approach a conversation with an employee who has been accused of bullying or whom you suspect of behaving in this way? These are difficult conversations, and it can help to have the tools to deal with them. Coaching for leaders can take the form of face-to-face sessions or it can be done online, let me know if you think we can help.

Disciplinary

Once a full investigation has been carried out then a disciplinary hearing should take place if the alleged behaviour does appear to have taken place. You may wish to go beyond first written warnings for this type of behaviour depending on the severity of it. It should be made clear that further behaviour of this type could result in the next stage of your disciplinary procedure being implemented or even dismissal.

Mediation

Workplace and conflict mediation is another service HR Think offers and it can be helpful to involve the persons involved in a bullying allegation to come to some sort of agreement meaning the workplace can be rid of ongoing conflict. Parties can work through their conflict and come to a mutually agreed plan of action at the end of it where expectations can be managed effectively.

If you require coaching or mediation assistance or if you need us to conduct an independent and impartial investigation for you, do get in touch.
Liz Jewer 07803 007591 or liz.jewer@hrthink.co.uk

Get in touch

Contact Liz Jewer on 07803 007591 if you need advice about this topic or HR related services HR Think offer.