Work-related responsibilities can be challenging for many employees, managers, and executives for numerous reasons. It is not


Work-related responsibilities can be challenging for many employees, managers, and executives for numerous reasons. It is not uncommon for all of these people to face challenges in balancing personal and work-life demands, as well as extensive job demands. But the pressure can be increased when “bullying” by bosses or employees is present.
Bullying in workplaces occurs when people are insulted, frightened, pressured strongly by comments, or face numerous other questionable actions by others. The occurrence of bullying is extensive, according to some surveys. For instance, of more than 50 million workers surveyed, about 37% of them said they had been bullied at work. Many of the incidents were by executives, managers, or supervisors who were their bosses. Examples of bullying by bosses included criticizing employees personally with insults or yelling, and making excessive demands. In a smaller study in San Francisco, 45% of 1,000 employees said they had worked for bullying bosses. This illustrates that one important issue of HR policies is how to deal with abusive managers and supervisors.
The differentiation between a demanding, intense boss and one who is a bully is how behavior, comments, and actions are seen by employees. If a manager demands high performance of all workers, rather than just selected ones, this may not be seen as bullying. However, when a boss uses power and aggressiveness to consistently insult and irritate a few people, the boss’s actions may be seen as inappropriate. Conduct that can be seen as bullying includes:
• Frequent emotional comments and outbursts
• Use of “power” for self-interest rather than for job- and employer-related issues
• Aggressively demanding tasks and results from subordinates and other managers
A growing HR legal concern is if workforce bullying violates the civil rights of protected class members. Women, racial minorities, older people, individuals with disabilities, and others may be able to file equal employment legal complaints. More than a dozen states have introduced legislation to address bullying through “healthy workplace” requirements. Some lawsuits have been won by workers who have been bullied. For instance, an Indiana hospital employee won an award because of a surgeon who communicated through screaming, cussing, clenched fists, and by other inappropriate means.
However, bullying is not limited to that done by bosses. Employees can be disciplined for how they treat customers, clients, coworkers, and even their managers. Examples include inappropriate or nasty comments, gestures, and other actions.
It is important that employers adopt and reinforce antibullying codes of conduct and policies. Additionally, training all bosses and workers about inappropriate bullying actions can help to reduce incidences of bullying. HR professionals should be proactive and take seriously individuals’ complaints of bullying-related actions. Bullying has always occurred in workplaces, but now it has grown into another important HR employer/employee rights and responsibilities issue.

1. Based on your work experiences, identify examples of bullying that you have observed
by managers, supervisors, and/or coworkers. Discuss what was and was not done, both appropriately and inappropriately, by your employers.

2. If you were an HR professional doing training, what content and policies regarding bullying might you present to employees and managers?

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Human Resource Management

ISBN: 978-0538453158

13th Edition

Authors: Robert L. Mathis, John H. Jackson

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