HomeTalent ManagementRewards & BenefitsEmpowering employees to stand up against bullying in the workplace

Empowering employees to stand up against bullying in the workplace

  • 4 Min Read

Julie Provino, an international HR leader and founder of VeryHR talks about how we can tackle bullying in the workplace through empowerment of employees.

Featured Image

It is undeniable that there has been significant amount of progress legislatively over the last decade to safeguard employees against workplace bullying and harassment. On the surface, we have appeared to agree that such behaviour should not be tolerated. We have even brought in rules and measures. But how effective has any of that really been?

What has actually happened is rather astonishing. There hasn’t been a reduction in harassment and bullying. Instead, businesses have responded by metaphorically brushing any incidents that arise under the carpet. A behaviour that is borne out of fear of their reputation being tarnished should they tackle the issue head on.

The result is the rise of non-disclosure agreements. When the culprit is a powerful boss how do you weigh up the risk to the company as a whole – and the livelihood of many – against the rights of an individual. Non – disclosure agreements have become a way of acknowledging that the complainant has spoken out and they are often compensated for that whilst protecting the company’s reputation.

The problem is, the culprit is not made to acknowledge and suffer the consequences of his/her actions. They then continue to bully and harass others. It then just takes one person to bravely stand up and go public. They don’t even have to be in your company. Your policy of non-disclosure agreements is no longer a clever compromise but a ticking time bomb. Because the courageous actions of one person will encourage others to say #metoo. Others who are currently being harassed or discriminated against by the boss you didn’t remove. So what should you be doing instead? How can a business protect its employees whilst safeguarding its image?

It is all about empowerment. Empowering employees to openly speak up and businesses to take positive action to annihilate non-ethical behaviour. HR’s role is about taking the lead on creating mechanisms for open and safe communication both on a business as usual basis and through wellbeing and safeguarding awareness workshops. It all begins with the realisation that bullying and harassment begin with the word “no” and that “no” is permitted in the workplace. It begins with the idea of mutual respect and commitment. Bad bosses should not be allowed or given the opportunity to continue to lead, regardless of commercial pressure. Positive action should be celebrated and made an example for others.

Alongside creating a culture that is creative, mindful and inspirational rather than one that stifles through the overreliance on policy and legalese businesses need to understand that culture is dynamic, all-encompassing and embraces the good the bad and the ugly. A culture that encourages individuals to not only focus on what’s important to them but to operate in a way that benefits the greater purpose too.

The #metoo phenomenon is quite simply a response to this widespread culture of fear in organisations preventing employees to speak up. This in turn is the undeniable result of organisations not actively listening to employee wellbeing, which is not just about gym memberships and yoga classes. Businesses can truly benefit from empowering wellbeing programs, which increase trust and fellowship by strategically, tactfully and ethically listening to the needs of the workforce and empowering them to take full ownership of what is going on in their professional and personal lives.

I eagerly await the headline, “we fired our CEO due to bullying and harassment”. I will have enormous amount of respect for the company that generates it

Julie Provino is an international HR leader, founder of VeryHR and the author of How to Get What You Want in 7 Weeks.

Was this article helpful?

Subscribe to get your daily business insights

Related Articles

One year on: UK's 4-day work week trial has been a success

The UK has been a pioneer in exploring this innovative approach to work-life balance. Just over a year ago, a groundbreaking trial was conducted...

  • HRD Connect
  • Feb 26, 2024

Employees are embarrassed about their financial literacy - HR teams should step up and support

Less than half (46%) of HR professionals foster a culture of openness about financial concerns, and only 16% of workers feel they have this kind of...

  • HRD Connect
  • Feb 23, 2024

UK loses 150 million working days due to lack of workplace support for women’s health

Key findings: The UK is losing 150 million working days each year (in accordance with ONS figures) due to poor women’s health and a lack of...

  • HRD Connect
  • Feb 22, 2024

How can businesses be proactive in their approach to mental health? 

Imagine a workplace where employees feel supported, valued, and empowered to thrive, both personally and professionally. Sounds unrealistic? It...

  • Chance Marshall
  • Feb 21, 2024

Decoding the US' new pension legislation

Every HR leader and professional knows the critical role retirement plans play in securing the future for their employees. Now, the landscape of...

  • HRD Connect
  • Feb 15, 2024

New survey reveals 45% of UK women feel they are underpaid

Nearly half of the women in the United Kingdom believe their salary does not fairly compensate them for their work, according to a recent survey...

  • HRD Connect
  • Feb 12, 2024

Women would need to work an extra 19 years to close the gender pension gap

In order to close this gap, a woman would need to start pension saving at just three years old, to retire with the same amount of money as working...

  • HRD Connect
  • Feb 7, 2024

Creating a safe environment for sick leave

In the modern workplace, the line between work and personal life has become increasingly blurred. A recent study by MHR revealed a concerning trend:...

  • HRD Connect
  • Feb 6, 2024

Events

HRD Roundtable: Combating 'Quiet Quitting'…

08 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023

HRD Network Roundtable: The Retention…

15 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023

Manage change and drive value…

01 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023
Sign up to our Newsletter