Experts recommend workplace bullying policies
Although U.S. law does not require employers to have policy and training that address workplace bullying, experts say that such policies are good business practice and help promote a culture of civility.
Typically, workplace bullying cases are not covered under federal anti-discrimination law unless the target is a member of a protected class. The Workplace Bullying Institute, a research, training, support and advocacy organization, encourages states to pass The Healthy Workplace Bill, which “plugs the gaps in current state and federal civil rights protections,” according to a fact sheet about the bill created by the Healthy Workplace Campaign.
As of September 2012, 21 states have introduced, but not enacted, The Healthy Workplace Bill.
Nevertheless, research shows that workplace bullying can have other consequences, such as decreased employee morale and loyalty, reduced productivity, lack of trust among co-workers, and higher health care and workers’ compensation claims.
In 2010, a survey sponsored by the Workplace Bullying Institute revealed that 50% of U.S. workers have experienced or witnessed bullying. In a 2011 Society for Human Resource Management poll, 51% of responding organizations reported incidences of bullying in their workplaces.
A workplace bullying policy, which might be added to a larger anti-harassment policy, should define bullying, provide examples of bullying behavior and set forth a reporting procedure.
Catherine Mattice, president of consulting and training firm Civility Partners LLC, recommends that policies include a list of desired employee behaviors. “You have to tell them what they should be doing,” she told SHRM Online. “You’ve got to focus on the positive workplace.”
For a policy to be effective, employers must follow through with the stated procedure when an incident is reported, Jeannie Trudel, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business at Southern Wesleyan University in Central, S.C., said in an interview with SHRM Online. She has conducted research on workplace incivility.
Some policy examples:
• SHRM’s workplace bullying sample policy includes a definition of bullying; a statement about the purpose of the policy; and examples of bullying behavior, such as using verbal or obscene gestures, spreading rumors and gossip regarding individuals, and manipulating the ability of someone to do their work.
• The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) anti-bullying policy is contained in the “Violence in the Workplace” chapter of the 278-page OSHA Field Health and Safety Manual. The policy sets forth the responsibilities of OSHA employees and managers in the context of workplace bullying.
• Margaret Hart Edwards, a shareholder in Littler Mendelson’s San Francisco office, told SHRM Online that school anti-bullying policies likely could be adapted to the workplace with little difficulty.
Training is a crucial part of addressing workplace bullying. Experts emphasize that employees should know that the policy exists and what it covers. Training options include the following:
• Numerous training webinars and videos are available on the Work Doctor website.
• A partner with Morrison & Foerster has developed a mobile app to help HR professionals navigate federal and state sexual harassment training requirements. The app, which contains information about workplace bullying, is available for iPhone and iPad.
• Anti-harassment training from ELT, a provider of online compliance training, includes the topic of bullying. Recently, ELT merged with EthicsPoint, Global Compliance Services and PolicyTech to create NAVEX Global.
To write effective policies and provide meaningful training on workplace bullying, employers should stay informed about related legislation and best practices. Resources include:
• Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ nine-page report on workplace bullying provides, among other things, a discussion of how bullying can affect the workplace and a list of things employers can do to discourage workplace bullying. Recommendations include encouraging open-door policies and structuring the work environment to incorporate a sense of autonomy.
• A 2011 research article titled “Workplace Incivility and Turnover Intentions: The Efficacy of Managerial Intervention” provides tips for managers. Among the suggestions: conduct team building and hold regular, private meetings with immediate subordinates to create opportunities to discuss issues.
• Stop Bullying at Work (SHRM, 2009) by Teresa A. Daniel, Ph.D., includes a chapter on strategic tools for HR professionals.
• The Healthy Workplace Bill website tracks legislative activity in all 50 states.
Erin Binney is a staff writer for SHRM.
©2012 SHRM. All rights reserved.
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Housing starts surge in September
Housing starts in September increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 872,000, up 15.0% from the August figure. The pace of residential construction was the highest since July 2008, and up 34.8% over the same figure last year.
Single-family starts also increased double digits — up 11.0% to a rate of 603,000.
Building permits in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000, up 11.6% above the revised August rate of 801,000. Permits were up 45.1% over the September 2011 rate.
Sales dip at in Q4 at WD-40
Lubricant maker WD-40 Co. reported net sales of $84.9 million for its fourth fiscal quarter, a decrease of 6% from the same quarter last year. Net income for the fourth quarter, which ended Aug. 31, 2012, was $9.0 million, a decrease of 12% compared with the prior year fiscal quarter.
Year-to-date figures reported by the San Diego-based company were $342.8 million in net sales, up 2% from the prior fiscal year. Year-to-date net income was $35.5 million, a decrease of 3% from the prior fiscal year.
Sales in the fourth quarter for WD-40’s multi-purpose maintenance products — which include the WD-40 multi-use product, 3-in-One, Blue Works and the WD-40 Specialist product lines — were $70.6 million, down 5% from the prior year fiscal quarter, and $286.5 million year-to-date, up 3% from the prior fiscal year. The multi-purpose maintenance products are considered a primary focus, the company said.
Homecare and cleaning products sales, which include all other brands, were $14.3 million for the fourth quarter, down 14% from the prior year fiscal quarter, and were $56.3 million year-to-date, down 2% compared with the prior fiscal year. The U.S. homecare and cleaning products, such as X-14 mildew stain remover and automatic toilet bowl cleaners such as 2000 Flushes, are considered harvest brands providing healthy profit returns to the company and are becoming a smaller part of the business as the multi-purpose maintenance products sales grow, according to comments that accompanied the financial results.
In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2012, the company developed the WD-40 Bike product line, which is focused on the development of a comprehensive line of bicycle maintenance products for cyclists and mechanics.
WD-40 Co. expects fiscal year 2013 net sales to be in the range of $356.0 million to $370.0 million. The company also said it anticipated net income of $36.5 million to $38.0 million and for fiscal year 2013.
WD-40 Co. markets its products in 187 countries worldwide and recorded sales of $343 million in fiscal year 2012.