The recent and tragic event of Amanda Todd’s suicide brings to light the profound impact bullying can have on a person’s life. Unfortunately, even as we become adults and working professionals there are still instances where people feel bullied and threatened. I believe we all have a role to play to ensure that our workplaces are safe spaces where we are comfortable being ourselves and feel accepted for who we are.
Human Resources also has an important role in setting clear policies that articulate that workplace bullying is unacceptable and has strict consequences. This policy should be a part of any HR guidelines/hand outs for new employees and should be built into any workplace orientation. I strongly believe that the clearest and most effective way to communicate that workplace bullying is unacceptable is to ensure that any reported cases of bullying are taken seriously, looked into and handled immediately. It is also important to build awareness in the organization of this policy, through posters, bulletins, potentially a spot in the internal newsletter, etc. By actively communicating to employees that this is an established policy that will be implemented when necessary, HR will help to foster understanding and a level of comfort among employees with the policy. I also believe it can be helpful to offer occasional workshops or seminars about workplace bullying generally and how to prevent it.
Ultimately we all need to be aware of how we behave in the office and ensure we are being respectful of our colleagues. In addition, if we witness workplace bullying the onus is on us to speak up, and/or go to HR and report the incident. Workplace bullying can be mitigated but it takes the active participation of both HR and all employees.