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Although U.S. law does not require employers to have a policy and training that address workplace bullying, experts say that such policies are good business practice and help promote a culture of civility.
Typically, workplace bullying cases are not covered under federal anti-discrimination law unless the target is a member of a protected class. The Workplace Bullying Institute, a research, training, support and advocacy organization, encourages states to pass The Healthy Workplace Bill, which “plugs the gaps in current state and federal civil rights protections,” according to
FAQs about the bill compiled by the The Healthy Workplace Campaign.
As of September 2012, 21 states have introduced, but not enacted, The Healthy Workplace Bill.
Nevertheless, research shows that workplace bullying can have other consequences, such as decreased employee morale and loyalty, reduced productivity, lack of trust among co-workers, and higher health care and workers’ compensation claims.
a survey sponsored by the Workplace Bullying Institute revealed that 50 percent of U.S. workers have experienced or witnessed bullying. In a 2011
Society for Human Resource Management poll,51 percent of responding organizations reported incidences of bullying in their workplaces.
A workplace bullying policy, which might be added to a larger anti-harassment policy, should define bullying, provide examples of bullying behavior and set forth a reporting procedure.
Catherine Mattice, president of consulting and training firm Civility Partners LLC, recommends that policies include a list of desired employee behaviors. “You have to tell them what they
should be doing,” she told
SHRM Online.“You’ve got to focus on the positive workplace.”
For a policy to be effective, employers must follow through with the stated procedure when an incident is reported, Jeannie Trudel, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business at Southern Wesleyan University in Central, S.C., said in an interview with
SHRM Online. She has conducted research on workplace incivility.
Some policy examples:
Training is a crucial part of addressing workplace bullying. Experts emphasize that employees should know that the policy exists and what it covers. Training options include the following:
To write effective policies and provide meaningful training on workplace bullying, employers should stay informed about related legislation and best practices. Resources include:
Erin Binney is a staff writer for SHRM.
Bullying, Violence Continue in the Workplace, Survey Finds,
SHRM Online Safety & Security Discipline, March 2012
HR Magazine, February 2012
Dealing with Workplace Bullies, SHRM
Legal Report, July 2011
SHRM Online Employee Relations page
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