HR stops Workplace Bullying, if 3% = Success

I want to love HR. I know good HR people. One shining example was a 2009 WBI University graduate. She was accustomed to serving at the executive level, as Senior Vice President, in several hospitals. When we met, she had lost two previous jobs simply because she dared to stand up to senior manager bullies. Each time, the CEOs terminated her and kept their buddies. We withhold her name so she can work again.

Another good person is a New York City-based HR professional who blogs and has written a book called the HR Toolkit and works with our NY State group to pass the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, despite SHRM’s official opposition to the legislation.

I write this love letter at the request of HR folks who hate reading the negative news about how HR does too little to stop bullying within their organizations. Believe me, I hate the fact that HR doesn’t help enough, too.

Really, I want to tout the value HR brings to organizations, but I need proof. I do not demonize HR. They are not wicked, ok maybe threatening, but not demonic. But I report the experiences bullied targets tell us. It’s that simple.

Clearly individuals are separate from the institutional role that dictates that they serve their executive masters and allow bullies to operate with impunity. The caveat is that whatever personal conflict over doing the right thing or the commanded or expected thing should compel more HR folks to be ethical, right and just.

That’s why I rely on empirical and anecdotal data to shape the story. HR folks, here is what 462 people who probably had been bullied told us on our summer 2010 online Instant Poll.

The percentage of cases in which HR took action and stopped the bullying: 3.4. There it is — the good news. Headline: HR Effectively Stops Bullying (3% of the time). HR you earned it. Celebrate. The 3%-ers are the good people. But what about the rest of you?

In 60% of cases HR did nothing after bullying was reported to them. Doing nothing was followed by an increase in bullying, for 26.6% of respondents.

Worse still, HR botched matters by taking action that helped the alleged bully and hurt the complainant in 32.5% of cases.

This is the reality confirmed by WBI coaches who have listened to over 6,000 detailed tales. And you might want to view the contributions to our HR Forum.

Don’t get defensive. Don’t attack WBI. Just do the right thing for the person hurt by the ones typically more powerful. Stop siding with the powerful just to keep your job or to curry favor from them. Grow a conscience. Be moral leaders. Teach executives about bullying and show them how destructive it is, for people and for leaders.

Now the Good News …

Here’s some great news for HR staffers. Though you have not fooled those who turned to you for help inside your organizations, the general public believes that HR is serving aggrieved employees. This statistic is derived from the latest 2010 WBI-Zogby national poll.

14.3% of adult Americans credited HR with taking appropriate actions that stopped the bullying with positive outcomes for the target. (compared to the 3.4% from the non-scientific online poll)

Botched efforts occurred in only 5.3% of cases.

HR doing nothing was estimated at 24.9%, allowing the bullying to continue but in only 6.2% of situations was the target harmed by increased bullying.

In the majority of cases, 51% of adult Americans , survey respondents were not sure if HR was told about the workplace bullying situation.

So, HR, please do not demonize WBI. Do better and we will gladly report it.