Diversity & Inclusion, HR Management & Compliance

It’s October 3rd: How Does Your Workplace Handle Harassment & Bullying?

The early 2000s classic Mean Girls still stands strong in today’s pop culture. In honor of a memorable scene between transfer student Cady Heron (played by Lindsey Lohan) and heartthrob Aaron Samuels (played by Jonathan Bennett), October 3rd is known as National Mean Girls Day.

Mean Girls (Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

While Mean Girls chronicles the drama between Cady, her new friends, and The Plastics (the popular girls), the high school comedy serves as a reminder that bulling damages everyone in the end. For HR professionals, taking a strong stance against workplace bulling and harassment is essential for maintaining company culture, productivity, and employees’ quality of life.

That said, is your HR team prepared to handle these issues with grace and forethought? To help, we complied our best articles on workplace bullying and harassment to serve as advice and a reminder to raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by Regina George.

Workplace Bullying

Protecting Against Workplace Bullying — The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) defines bullying as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is: 1. threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; 2. work interference—e.g., sabotage—that prevents work from getting done; or 3. verbal abuse.

How to Detect and Stop Bullying in the Workplace — Sadly, the experience of being bullied is something many people remember from their childhood. Arguably, the pervasiveness and omnipresence of the online social media culture have made that experience even worse for today’s children. But, despite the common connotations of “bullying” invoking playgrounds and school hallways, bullying isn’t restricted to children. In fact, bullying affects nearly half of all U.S. employees. Your organization is likely not immune.

Strategies to Reduce Workplace Bullying — Workplace bullying is not condoned by employers. It not only creates a hostile working situation but also can create low morale, increased resentment, and increased turnover. It can decrease productivity and even negatively impact employees’ interactions with customers, potentially causing lost business. These are all reasons—beyond not wanting someone to be treated poorly—for employers to take steps to eliminate bullying behaviors in the workplace.

Implementing a Workplace Bullying Policy — It may be surprising to many to hear that workplace bullying is a real phenomenon. It seems almost unthinkable in a professional setting to think of bullying behavior. And yet, some researchers claim one in every three employees will experience bullying at work. And the experts say bullying costs businesses more than $200 billion a year due to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and high turnover.

Workplace Harassment

Workplace Harassment in a Remote Office — Workplace bullying and harassment have long been issues plaguing workplaces of all kinds in their physical environments. That problem has only been made worse through the shift to remote work. Unfortunately, the attacks often do not stop just because work is being performed remotely. It’s essential that managers and HR professionals stay vigilant in identifying and addressing workplace harassment, whatever form it may take—or wherever it may occur.

Reducing Liability: How Employers Can Be On the Hook for Employee-To-Employee or Third-Party Racial Harassment — Although employers may be automatically liable for supervisors or administrative personnel harassing subordinate employees under certain federal laws, they may also be held liable if another employee (even one subordinate to the harassed employee) or a third-party such as a customer or vendor harasses an employee based on their race.

Tips to Limit Risk of Employee Harassment by Customers — Most employers are equipped to respond to employee allegations of harassment by coworkers or managers. There are added levels of difficulty, however, when they complain about harassment by a customer, contractor, or other visitor to the business. A federal court of appeals recently ruled a Harrah’s Casino employee can go to trial on her claims that (1) she was sexually harassed by a customer and (2) the employer didn’t take sufficient steps to address her concerns.

Protecting Employee Psychological Safety Amid Online Harassment — Employee psychological safety, a vital factor in any organization’s productivity, is increasingly under threat. Alongside COVID-19, a rising trend of online harassment is impacting psychological well-being and performance for a large minority of employees.