HR shouldn’t pull punches with bullies

Almost two-thirds of workplace victims not given help needed: Survey
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/05/2011

A lot of people claim to be bullied in the workplace — more than one-quarter (27 per cent), according to a recent CareerBuilder survey of 5,671 full-time workers in the United States. As a solution, 28 per cent of the respondents sought the assistance of HR but, alarmingly, 62 per cent said no action was taken.

One of the challenges is the lack of a concrete description of workplace bullying, though some jurisdictions have some codification of the term in legislation, such as Quebec, said Heather MacKenzie, founder and senior partner of the Integrity Group in Vancouver.

Bullying is not singular, it’s repetitive behaviour, it’s enduring and it usually escalates, she said. With harassment, intention isn’t relevant under the law but with bullying, there is an intention to undermine the target, though the bully may not fully understand what he’s doing, said MacKenzie. Workplace bullying can be verbal or non-verbal and sometimes violent but from a psychological or emotional perspective, it can be really intimidating for someone in HR, she said.