Bullies free to operate as HR gets strategic

Workplace bullying is escalating because HR professionals are losing touch with employees in a bid to become more strategic, a government-funded study suggests.

The changing face of the function means that many HR professionals no longer act as a “people’s champion”, and ignore bullying until it reaches crisis point, the report said.

Charlotte Rayner, professor of HR management at Portsmouth Business School and author of the Dignity at Work report, told Personnel Today: “Many HR functions are now centralised or based off-site, with HR delegating most responsibility to managers. HR is taking a strategic approach to bullying, gathering and maintaining information about policies and complaints, but not intervening to stop it.”

Official figures estimate that bullying costs employers more than £2bn a year in sick pay, staff turnover and loss of productivity.

Rayner said bullying was usually a result of poor communication between individuals. “The vast majority of bullying begins with a misunderstanding between people,” she said.

The report also recommended appointing workplace harassment advisers to tackle the problem and provide feedback to HR.

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