Workplace Bullying and Harassment: What does your policy say (if you know where it is)?

The success of any organizational Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy lies on it being accessible and understandable, by all employees. And in particular, relevant.
All too often, employees, when asked about whether they know what their company’s Bullying and Harassment Policy states, will respond by commenting that they know a policy exists, but they’re not certain what it says, or where to find it.
That is simply not good enough.
Any organization that does not have an official policy on bullying in the workplace, must develop and launch one.

Training is Essential for Senior Management and Throughout Employee Structure

All senior personnel, and anyone with management responsibilities, require specific training in how the bullying and harassment  policy works, and its importance should be cascaded throughout their staff.
Every new employee joining the company should receive a copy of the policy. If that new person is taking on management responsibilities, they need training as well.
Those policies should be readily available on the internal intranet and regularly promoted by senior management to emphasize their importance.
The workplace policy on bullying or harassment prevention has to be a company wide effort, and the more broadly the ownership and authorship is shared, the better. The executive suite, managers, supervisors and Human Resources, all must leave a footprint within the document and its day to day promotion within the workplace.
As with every policy, it should be considered as a living document, and each year requires examination with updates where necessary. Organizations ebb and flow over the years. As a result, companies can often find that if they do not pay attention to their policies on a regular basis, they no longer reflect the workplace sufficiently to be relevant or defendable.
Participation by each area of the organization in the development and launch of their Bullying and Harassment Policy is crucial to its success. Each area should have a champion identified to contribute in that development, and then be able to report back to their group regarding the progress being made. This paves the way for the successful introduction of the policy and maintaining its transparency, while at the same time, demonstrating participation.
Once approved by the organization’s senior management, it’s time to educate everyone regarding the existence, relevance, and contents of the policy. The training of employees on the policy, and what it means to them, is most crucial.
Having a document is not enough.

Some important steps in the development and launch of your Bullying and Harassment Policy:

  • Present the policy in its entirety to the senior management team.
  • Train the senior management team on the workings of the policy to ensure they understand their roles.
  • Arrange and conduct compulsory training for all employees and Human Resources staff on how the policy works, and what their roles will be.
  • Train managers and supervisors and inform them of their role.
  • Post information about the policy in prominent locations throughout the organization.
  • Ensure that all new employees receive the policy in their new employee orientation/information package.
  • Promote the importance of the policy regularly.