Protecting Your Team: The Employer’s Role in Combating Workplace Harassment

workplace bullying and harassment investigations

Even the strongest corporate cultures can be destroyed by one rotten employee who was left unchecked. That is why leaders need to be mindful of the different forms workplace harassment can take. Workplace bullying is not always overtly obvious, and leadership must be vigilant in spotting the signs.

At Pivot HR, we work with businesses and leaders across North America every day on cases of workplace harassment. Below, we will go through the signs of bullying and harassment that leaders should watch for and stop the bullying before it starts.

What is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying is an intentional act a person reasonably ought to have known would cause harm, embarrassment or intimidation to another worker. Types of harassment in the workplace can include calling someone derogatory names, personal attacks, vandalizing personal belongings and spreading malicious rumours.

Spotting Workplace Harassment

The most common types of workplace harassment that Pivot HR investigates are cases of aggressive, hostile, or belittling behaviour. What does that look like? Well, it’s not dissimilar to the way high school bullies behave. Rather than overt physical harassment, adult bullies tend to take a subtler approach.

Signs of bullying can look like:

  • Lying to others
  • Taking credit for others’ work
  • Purposefully embarrassing someone in front of clients, co-workers or employers
  • Berating people or making snide remarks
  • Minimizing others’ achievements

Workplace harassment has a severe impact on a bullied person’s mental health and, therefore, ability to do their job. Often, this takes the form of gaslighting, where the bully engages in abusive behaviours but staunchly denies it when confronted, which plants the seeds of self-doubt in the victim’s reality and experiences.

Signs a worker is being bullied can look like:

  • Loss of self-esteem
  • An inability to concentrate at work
  • Slower productivity
  • Low morale
  • Difficulty making decisions

The Employer’s Responsibility

Employers are responsible for maintaining a healthy, psychologically safe workplace because corporate culture comes from the top down. If management does not swiftly deal with a bully, you risk developing a toxic environment.

You can mitigate the possibility of bullies going unchecked by having explicit policies and procedures in the employee handbook, including a zero-tolerance bullying policy and reporting procedures for workers experiencing bullying. The best way to prevent bullying is to create a healthy corporate culture focusing on collaboration, communication, and positive interactions.

It is important to take bullying claims seriously and conduct thorough workplace investigations to get to the bottom of it. If your office doesn’t have HR, we recommend hiring an external workplace investigation consultant from Pivot HR. Additionally, the best long-term maintenance employers can do is schedule yearly anti-bullying and harassment training with Pivot HR.

Partner with Pivot HR!

Pivot HR Services is one of North America’s top human resources consulting agencies. Pivot offers highly specialized HR services for businesses in Canada and the United States, with consultants in Vancouver, Toronto, and Santa Barbara. Our services are available in person and virtually, depending on your location.

We are proud to have a team of highly educated and experienced HR professionals who are well-versed in the ins and outs of HR in both Canada and the United States. We offer comprehensive HR services such as recruiting, training, leadership development, performance management and workplace investigations.

Have you noticed any of the types of workplace harassment mentioned above? If so, contact Pivot HR today to speak with one of our consultants.

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