Companies now use online collaborative tools to join more people together and get more work done. They can also use these tools to monitor their employees. For instance, an employer can monitor Workplace from Facebook, or via any other means to discourage the occurrence of any untoward incidents in professional settings, such as instances of bullying. These systems also help those in charge to go back to the facts when addressing situations that call for unbiased judgment. Unfortunately, not all workplace setups are progressive. Still, that does not mean your bully should get away with what they are doing.
If someone at work bullies you persistently, whether a superior or colleague and for whatever reason, you are not supposed to take the situation sitting down. Stand your ground by following this step-by-step guide.
1. Reread company policy regarding employee conduct
Trust that your organization has policies in place that clearly outline its stance against workplace bullying. So refer to HR documents and locate those policies. If for some reason you don’t find anything, go to official government documents that outline legal protection for workplace bullying victims. You’re doing this to know your rights. Also, to prepare you for the following step.
2. Inform your bully about relevant policies that prohibit their actions
Ignorance of the law excuses no one. That’s something everyone old enough to join the workforce should know. But you can take the high road here by reiterating your rights in front of your bully. The goal is if they can’t stop harassing you out of maturity and decency, at least you’ll give them a reason to leave you alone once they learn that they could be legally culpable for their actions. That is assuming that they’re not aware of relevant policies pertaining to bullying. After confronting your bully, move on to the next step.
3. Write an incident report
Here you recount what happened. The more details you can include in your incident report, the better. If you can have witnesses sign your written report, vouching for the veracity of your account, that would be helpful too. Include pertinent information including the time, place, and date of the bullying incident. If you can procure physical evidence such as CCTV recordings, that will also work in your favor. The key is to leave no room for potential misinterpretations from those not in the scene.
4. Inform your immediate superior
This is where you exercise your own judgment. If your bully stops bothering you after you inform them of your organization’s anti-bullying policies, as well as government-imposed anti-harassment laws, you can let the whole thing slide. Or not. There’s always a risk of these incidents repeating if the bully in question gets away with their actions. So your best recourse might be to go straight to your superior the first time a bullying incident happens. That way, you send the right message from the get-go. You will not tolerate bullies and those in charge will know about them.
5. Inform HR
Your bully might be friends with your immediate superior. The latter might dismiss your allegations. Do not let this crush your spirit. Kick your fighting and survival mode up a notch and refuse to be undermined. Submit your incident report to HR. Have a meeting with an HR representative. Recount what happened and declare your expectations. If your organization’s HR team is worth their salt, they’ll know how to best manage the situation. That is to hold the bully accountable.
6. Consult a legal counsel
This is your final recourse. If your immediate superior dismissed your concerns and your organization’s HR team failed to deliver what’s expected of them, you can take your concern externally. Consult a legal counsel, preferably one who specializes in workplace harassment and bullying cases. Know what further steps you need to take. Determine a viable resolution that will give you peace of mind.
Cases of bullying negatively affect workplace culture. It dampens the morale of the victim, which compromises their productivity as a result. Plus, if tolerated, it gives the offender a sense of power they’d abuse the more they get away with what they do.
That’s why bullying cases should not be swept under the rug. It should be dealt with head-on. It is in the management’s best interest to let everyone know that there’s no room for bullying in the organization. Possible offenders will think twice about harassing their colleagues. Meanwhile, victims will feel empowered, knowing the management has their back.
And if you’ve experienced workplace bullying before or you’re still going through it now, let your voice be heard. You have nothing to be ashamed of so demand accountability from the person who’s made or is making your professional life miserable.