In a recent blog article assessing the anti-bullying movement in 2010, I stated that we saw both breakthroughs and backlash during the past year. This post reports an example of the latter.
I call to your attention a recent, revealing online exchange about workplace bullying, employers, and human resources that took place on the discussion board of Workforce Management (link here). Several self-identified HR folks suggested that:
- concerns about workplace bullying are greatly exaggerated;
- many claims about bullying at work are without merit; and,
- the anti-bullying movement is a “fad” — like sexual harassment and diversity concerns generally — that eventually will go away.
Two individuals who urged that workplace bullying be taken seriously, workplace consultant Catherine Mattice (“catmattice” on the discussion board) and mediator Debra Healy (“mgoose12”), were cuffed around by those who said they were trying to cash in on bullying concerns for the benefit of their practices. Fortunately, they more than held their own. (It helps to have the facts on your side.)
Later on, Catherine posted a lengthy commentary on this exchange to her blog.
If a sign of progress for an emerging movement is resistance and criticism, then I guess you can say this exchange reflected that. Still, it shows that we have a lot of work left to do in order to persuade employment relations stakeholders of the destructive impact of psychological abuse at work. The tone of dismissiveness, annoyance, and even derision from some of the folks who posted to that thread was palpable.
For related commentary (and one of this blog’s most popular posts), see “HR was useless”, explaining the realities of HR’s role in the workplace.