What generally happens when workplace bullying targets report their cases to HR

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We know some of you work in Human Resources (HR) and help workplace bullying targets. And for that, we thank you. However, the sad truth is that you are in a tiny minority of HR representatives who advocate for the target instead of management. A 2012 Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) poll revealed that HR stopped bullying fairly and completely for the target in only two percent of cases.

So in 98 percent of cases, either:

  • HR wasn’t helpful, and retaliation followed (37 percent)
  • HR did nothing (31 percent)
  • HR wasn’t helpful, and the target lost his or her job (18 percent)
  • HR was not told (12 percent)

The problem with putting the burden on HR to resolve workplace bullying issues in the first place is that not only do they represent management (so their hands are tied if they do want or try to help), but also workplace bullying is a leadership problem. The responsibility to craft a workplace bullying policy and enforce it is management’s, not HR’s.

And management has had years to create healthier, safer workplaces through policy. Most have done absolutely nothing and won’t until they’re held accountable through law. In a 2012 poll, WBI asked respondents if their employers had a specific policy prohibiting workplace bullying. Only 5 percent of employers adequately addressed workplace bullying through policy. “Less than 3 percent have the courage to call bullying what it is and to craft explicit policies with credible enforcement procedures,” explains WBI.

Until we pass a law, going to HR about your workplace bullying case will most often do absolutely nothing except invite retaliation from the bully or force you out of the organization.

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2 comments

  1. toriiannbottomley

    I might suggest that while it may appear that HR did nothing that they sat listening compassionately in an effort not to console but hoping to release the floodgates. This information would be given to the legal department to get you fired by collecting false accusations hacking and defaming you in social media to prevent a legal suit. The HR person is likely to get a kickback, promotion and or perks such as late arrival or extra sick leave days. Bullying is a ” soft industry ” for all the power brokers.

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