Workplace bullying and harassment is usually a repeated pattern of negative behaviour aimed at a specific person or group. It can also occur however, in isolated, single incidents. The pattern of behaviour is usually intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate. It can include physical abuse or threat of abuse but it usually causes psychological rather than physical harm. Workplace harassment can involve sexual harassment and discrimination.
The most harmful forms of bullying and harassment are usually subtle, rather than direct. Harassment can occur through face-to-face interactions, verbal or non-verbal communication, and written communication (including email, texts, social media platforms).
Bullying and harassing behaviours can be exhibited by managers, supervisors, co-workers, subordinates, or clients. In other words, anyone within your organization, and anyone who interacts with people in your organization can be a bully
Examples Specific to Supervisors and Management
What is not Workplace Bullying and Harassment?
What is to be emphasized here is that managerial authority must be exercised reasonably and respectfully.
The impact of harassment in the workplace should not be underestimated. It can be profound and pervasive and can cause serious harm to the target(s) of the harassment, to witnesses of the harassment, and to the organization itself.
Adverse consequences of harassment on the individual target
Adverse consequences of harassment on witness to harassment:
Adverse consequences of harassment on the workplace generally:
In addition to the above adverse impacts of harassment to the workplace generally, there are a number of negative legal consequences to employers who do not take adequate steps to prevent harassment or to respond to complaints of harassment.
Potential Legal Consequences of Harassment
If any of these legal processes are invoked, organizations could be involved in lengthy and costly investigations, or they could be ordered to pay damages, fines, penalties or other sanctions. Individuals involved in perpetrating the harassment could lose professional credentials or face other discipline.
The best way for an organization to deal with and eradicate harassment from the workplace is to create and consistently implement and enforce clear, fair and effective Policies and Procedures for: identifying and denouncing harassing behaviour, reporting harassing behaviour, investigating reports of harassing behaviour, disciplining employees found to have engaged in harassing behaviour or to have otherwise breached the Policies and Procedures, and for educating and training all employees at every level of the organization in those Policies and Procedures.
Organizations must implement a process for reporting complaints and investigating them. For more information on this click here.