Defining and Investigating Bullying Behavior

by Jun 22, 2021

Bullying behavior can take a tremendous toll on targets and witnesses—causing depression, burnout, and even symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Organizations with employees that report bullying behavior commonly experience reductions in work quality and production, as well as decreased employee collaboration, safety, loyalty, and retention. Investigators are sometimes called upon to investigate alleged bullying behavior, and those who serve in HR roles or as employee trainers and coaches may be asked to assist organizations in implementing corrective action.

There is clear legal guidance as well as clear definitions when investigating harassment or discrimination complaints. However, “bullying” is typically not legally prohibited and is often more subjective behavior, so there is less guidance for determining whether bullying behavior has occurred or for corrective actions an organization can take when it exists. Compounding the problem is the lack of common nomenclature used to describe bullying—which can include abusive conduct, emotional abuse, and aggression—along with the fact that most employers are not savvy
in addressing it.

This article assists investigators and organizations in identifying
and correcting bullying behavior by:

  • Defining bullying;
  • Describing categories of bullying behavior to assist in identifying it;
  • Providing guidance for investigating allegations of workplace bullying; and
  • Offering advice for organizations to help manage and minimize workplace bullying.

Read the rest of the article (and the Association for Workplace Investigators Journal) here.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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