Bullying at the workplace is perhaps as old as the hills. It has existed in various forms from perhaps the time man first started working. From the time the workplace became more defined in terms of office space, working hours, formulation of policies and the like; bullying has taken on a new dimension. With the advent of the information-era office; bullying is not being kept under wraps the way it used to be. Today, employees feel freer to discuss bullying from their colleagues. Being the central caretaker of organizational policies, can HR prevent bullying at the workplace?
Depends on the bully
A respectable, trustworthy HR in any organization would like to take strict action against bullies. Who would like to tolerate such a person in the organization? The more the bully is left around to have his way; the more dangerous it is for the organization. Yet, it is not the easiest of tasks for HR to rein in bullies. This is much easier said than done. This is because, on most occasions, the bully is from the senior brass. When a top employee of the organization starts bullying the juniors, HR finds itself in a very delicate and different situation.
When to act?
HR can act only when it receives a complaint, and when the matter comes up before it. Till then, obviously, it cannot act, because it cannot simply assume that some kind of bullying is taking place. However, it can sense a bully, because people tend to keep talking about such a person in the office. It should show that it is willing to act, by encouraging some kind of openness in the organization about the person who everyone thinks is the office’s bully.
Calls for tact
It then has to approach the issue with caution, because it is in a piquant situation till it receives a complaint. If it acts in haste, it will be seen to be biased against the alleged bully. If it doesn’t act even after it senses a bully; it risks being labeled partial and inviting charges of favoritism. The way to go in situations like this is to build up a case. This is the surest and most objective way of tackling the issue. It has to ensure that junior employees who are at the receiving end do not have the fear of complaining to HR about the senior. It can next take up the matter at the board level and allow the matter to run its course and reach its logical end. In doing this, HR gains the trust of the junior employee and makes sure that justice is served.
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