How can employers tackle bullying and harassment in the workplace?

Bullying at work is a problem for many employers, so shouldn’t be ignored. The way to prevent it is to make it clear that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated both inside and outside of the workplace, and any such incidents will be dealt with fully.


The first thing to do is create an anti-bullying policy that’s integrated with your disciplinary guidelines. It will have to be communicated to staff through the employee handbook or contract, and can be made clearer still through training.


According to Acas, a policy on bullying and harassment should include the following:


  • Statement of commitment from senior management

  • Acknowledgement that bullying and harassment are problems for the organisation

  • Clear statement that bullying and harassment is unlawful, will not be tolerated and that decisions should not be taken on the basis or whether someone submitted to or rejected a particular instance of harassment

  • Examples of unacceptable behaviour

  • Statement that bullying and harassment may be treated as disciplinary offences

  • The steps the organisation takes to prevent bullying and harassment

  • Responsibilities of supervisors and managers

  • Confidentiality for any complainant

  • Reference to grievance procedures (formal and informal), including timescales for action

  • Investigation procedures, including timescales for action

  • Reference to disciplinary procedures, including timescales for action counselling and support availability

  • Training for managers

  • Protection from victimisation

  • How the policy is to be implemented, reviewed and monitored

Any organisation should already have disciplinary and grievance procedures in place, as they will need to be used if anyone breaches the bullying and harassment policy.


Ideally, employees should have input into what goes into the bullying and harassment policy. By giving examples of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour at work, they should be aware of the policy from the start and be more engaged with it.


Employers and senior managers need to set a good example and follow their own rules. Sometimes, an authoritarian management style can border on bullying, and trying to create a workplace built on communication and respect will be undermined if employees see managers getting away with treating others poorly.


All complaints relating to bullying and harassment should be dealt with promptly, fairly and sensitively. Employees will be less likely to report incidents if they feel nothing will be done about it, or that things will only get worse.


For help with creating a bullying and harassment policy for your workplace, call a Deminos advisor on 020 7870 1090 or email

Author David Ralph

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