Posts Tagged ‘HR’
Tuesday, November 14th, 2017
Written by Laurie Ruettimann after the Uber and Weinstein harassment scandals, but before Alabama’s Roy Moore’s misconduct.
I’m a 20-year Veteran of HR. Something Needs to be Fixed
By Laurie Ruettimann, Vox.com, Oct 18, 2017
Women are a human resources nightmare.
The national conversation has once again turned to women’s experiences of sexual harassment. Nearly two weeks ago, the New York Times and the New Yorker published allegations of rape and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein against actresses in Hollywood and beyond. These experiences go back decades, and they are often, but not exclusively, related to women who met Weinstein in a professional capacity and felt pressured, out of fear for their safety and their careers, to comply.
In other words, these women were harassed in the workplace.
Earlier this year, Susan Fowler blew the whistle on sexism and harassment at Uber. Fowler and her colleagues complained to Uber’s leadership about the culture of harassment within the organization, and they were routinely dismissed by everybody — including the HR department.
It was only when Fowler wrote a viral blog post detailing her complaints that Uber got serious. The company hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder to launch an investigation to understand why so many women had such bad things to say about their employee experience. The report was damning, and more than 20 people were fired for inappropriate conduct, including allegations of sexual harassment and management ignoring multiple reports of sexist behavior and harassment. Former CEO Travis Kalanick, who was not accused of harassment himself but reportedly did nothing to stop it when allegations came in, as well as other sexist and toxic behavior, resigned under pressure from investors.
That could’ve been a watershed moment for women in the workforce, but it wasn’t. That’s because corporate America, and human resources in particular, don’t care about women. They care about minimizing risk to enhance the value of a brand, which ultimately leads to greater revenue and stronger profits.
In short, nobody cares about women. Once the shock-and-awe of Harvey Weinstein is over, very little will change for the average worker in America. I know this because I’m a 20-year veteran of human resources. In that time, I worked at big organizations like Pfizer, Kemper Insurance, and Monsanto. I left my corporate job in 2007 and started writing and speaking about HR in an attempt to transform the entire function. I haven’t done a very good job because HR still sucks.
Tags: HR, HR fails women, HR is useless, human resources, Laurie Ruettimann, sexual harassment
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Tutorials About Bullying | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
We recently received the following note here at WBI. Writer’s words are in bold.
I feel like your website is extremely one sided. I came to it because an HR colleague referred me to it however she warned me the site was negative, anti-HR and anti-employer and she is correct.
We are not anti-employer. We are anti-abuse. When an employer abuses as general operating procedures or treats the rare complaint about abuse with indifference, then we oppose that particular employer. We have consulted and helped organizations since 1985, long before our 20 years in workplace bullying began. And we continue helping employers who give a damn about their employees. See here how we help. In court, I even help defend employers who wisely terminated abusers. We like good employers. Hate bad ones, don’t you?
Why did you come to visit us in the first place?
You pretty much tell the person they are being abused and the company will fire you.
We describe the predictable pattern that bullying follows. The sad experience mirrors what battered spouses go through. Do we make targets out of site visitors? No, 97% of site visitors come to us self-diagnosed as victims of workplace bullying. We simply report what over 12,000 targets have told us to bolster the mental health of visitors and inquiring family members. Admittedly, we have heard descriptions of two (2) heroic HR folks from all of those anecdotal tales. You are correct, HR is not all bad. In fact, several progressive, compassionate and thoughtful HR practitioners have attended the WBI Workplace Bullying University training for professionals and left with an in-depth knowledge of the phenomenon.
However, WBI research, based on polling individuals who suffer the mistreatment and not your guess about what outcomes are, shows that once targeted bullied workers face a 77% chance of losing their jobs. Read the study results here. And there is international research showing that bullies do not lose their jobs (Glambek, M., Skogstad, M.A., & Einarsen, S. (2016) Do the bullies survive? A five-year, three-wave prospective study of indicators of expulsion in working life among perpetrators of workplace bullying. Industrial Health, 54, 68-73.) Targets do lose their jobs (Glambek, M., Skogstad, M.A., & Einarsen, S. (2015) Take it or leave: A five-year, three-wave prospective study of workplace bullying and indicators of expulsion in working life. Industrial Health, 53, 160-170.).
In another study, we specifically asked what happened to people after they reported the bullying incidents to HR. Doing so proves to be a mistake. It seems, according to the one group who would know how and if HR helped them — individuals targeted for bullying — they were either retaliated against, lost their job, or ignored. On the plus side, nearly 2% of respondents said HR did help. Read the study results here.
This has not been my experience in the business world, nor many of our colleagues.
Those of us in the trenches in the war against workplace abusive conduct tend to share a common wisdom about HR. Colleague and friend Law Professor David Yamada (who is much more diplomatic than I, being careful to never offend unlike me) wrote recently in his blog, Minding the Workplace, that he hears reports such as “HR was useless,” “HR threw me under the bus,” and “HR protected the bullies.” He added, “in the worst instances, HR has actively furthered, supported, and enabled the abuse.”
And dear HR professional, in case you think it is only WBI-affiliated persons who hold such negative perceptions of HR, read on.
From the headlines, you may have heard about the costly corporate liability faced by Fox News for sustaining Bill O’Reilly’s employment. Fox or O’Reilly has paid $13 million in settlements to five of his accusers. One accuser of Roger Ailes won a $20 million settlement.
A central tenet in the Fox defense is that accusers of Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes never filed complaints with Fox Human Resources or called the company hotline.
Here comes attorney Nancy Erika Smith who represented Gretchen Carlson in her harassment lawsuit and now represents Julie Roginsky against Fox and Roger Ailes.
Smith was asked on CNN about the Fox defense. Some women at Fox News have said they are afraid the line is being monitored. Smith said calling the hotline is a good idea “only if you think it would be good to call the KGB to complain about Putin.” “HR is not your friend. HR will not help you,” Smith said.
Tags: abusive conduct, attitudes toward HR, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, Gretchen Carlson, HR, HR inaction, human resources, KGB, Nancy Erika Smith, sexual harassment
Posted in Advice for Employers | 3 Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Thursday, February 25th, 2016
C-Suite Talking Points for HR About Workplace Bullying
By Gary Namie, PhD
Assumptions: (1) No anti-bullying initiative can succeed without support from the top. (2) It will be the job of HR to take that message up the ladder.
Here is a list of reasons senior leaders should care. It includes, but is not limited to, the following:
• Workplace Bullying is a costly litigation nightmare. Even though a low proportion of incidents of bullying also have an aspect of discrimination (20%), the public erroneously believes hostile work environment protections apply to everyone. Therefore, too many individuals shop for an attorney willing to either threaten or file a lawsuit or EEOC formal complaint. At the very least, a defense has to be mounted, or settlement paid, or trial and penalty expenses absorbed.
• Recruitment & retention of highly skilled workers undermined. The typical bullying scenario finds the best & brightest targeted for baseless, mindless persecution until they either voluntarily quit or are driven away. This is unwanted, unnecessary and PREVENTABLE turnover.
• A tarnished reputation as one of the “worst places to work” on the street (mainly in social media) follows the expulsion of highly qualified workers. In turn, recruitment is made more difficult.
• Bullying causes stress-related diseases. Allowing it to continue unabated directly contradicts the internal commitments to wellness and employee well being. In fact, research clearly shows the causal role of personalized bullying in cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases, changes in the brain that lead to irreversible behavioral dysfunction that passes for incompetence to the naive observer, life shortening interference with DNA cellular replication, and doubling the rate of suicidal ideation. Why should we allow the health-harming misconduct to continue knowing that our staff and associates are being so severely impaired?
Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
No Skin in the Game
By Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR
Have you watched a manager bully another manager in a staff meeting?
Has one of the bully manager’s employee’s come to you? Does that employee want you to do something and yet expects you to keep her visit to you confidential?
Have you been bullied yourself and now stay out of the bully’s way?
What can you do?
After all, if you remain on the sidelines, you condone bullying. If a manager bullies a peer of yours, it may be just a matter of time before you’re a target as well.
If an employee seeks you out, and you do nothing, your inaction says “you’re on your own” and need to put up with bad treatment or quit.
If, instead, you interview, you say “I’m not your next target” and “I don’t tolerate bullying.” You tell the employee who feels she or he is the target that you care.
What can you do? Ask for a meeting with your chief executive officer. Give him any first-hand information you have. What have you seen the bully do to department heads that cross him? What turnover have you noticed in the bully manager’s department? What have you heard from employees who’ve turned to you?
According to the 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey published by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 28.7 million U.S. managers and employees witness bullying in the workplace on an on-going basis. Regrettably, most witnesses don’t act to fix the situation, because they think it’s not “their issue” or because they fear being caught in the cross-fire. Those at senior levels in organizations often don’t see the problem until the situation explodes because many bullies kiss up and kick down and laterally. Also, a bullying manager can produce great bottom-line results.
Further, bullied employees hesitate to speak up, fearing they’ll lose their jobs or experience other retaliation if they voice concerns.
If you’re in a management or HR position, you have the potential to raise the issue to senior leadership. If your CEO takes what you say seriously, he has options for assessing and addressing this situation. You can urge him to initiate 360 reviews for all managers, giving employees a safe forum for describing how a bully manager leads, communicates and handles those with viewpoints other than his own. You can suggest that an executive coach work with bullies. You can arrange training sessions on how to deal with verbal confrontation.
What can HR do? A LOT.
Lynne Curry is author of Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, Jan. 2016) and co-contributor to the WBI Leaders’ Column to advise organizational leaders about strategies to deal with workplace bullying.
Saturday, September 26th, 2015
How HR Can and Should Handle Bullies
By Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR
It’s easy to say HR should handle bully managers. In reality it’s not so simple.
As bullying isn’t illegal, HR’s hands are often tied unless there’s a documentable offense, particularly if the alleged bully is talented, productive and highly regarded by senior management or the industry.
At the same time, while bullying isn’t illegal, bullies expose their organizations to potential legal liability. Those who bully become so accustomed to getting their way through insults or pressure that they often don’t realize they don’t rule the world outside their workplace. When they harass or insult those in legally protected categories, such as someone of a different sex or race, or retaliate against employees who challenge them on safety issues or other legally protected grounds, they may drag their organization into a lawsuit or in front of a regulatory agency. Then, the bully’s claim that “it doesn’t matter that I called her a b—- because I call all men a——-s” or “I didn’t give him a hard time about the safety issue, I treat everyone that way” falls apart.
HR professionals are in in an ideal place to convince upper management to take action when they see a workplace bully edging their company toward these potential pitfalls. They can let their senior management know about the $270,000 Dish Network paid out to a victimized employee fired after he reported abusive behavior by his boss. The jury ruled in favor of the employee when he proved his supervisor verbally and physically abused him and the company didn’t listen to his complaints. The jury further ruled that Dish management failed to protect this or other employees from the supervisor’s abuse.
HR can let senior managers know about the two million dollars Microsoft paid out because they allowed bully managers and supervisors to create a hostile environment for a salesperson by undermining his work, making false accusations against him, blocking him from promotions, and otherwise marginalizing him. Judge Sulak ruled that the tech giant was guilty of “acting with malice and reckless indifference.”
HR often feels hamstrung by the fact that many of the employees who come to them voicing concerns about bullies expect and need confidentiality – even for the fact that they’ve visited HR. Luckily, HR has alternatives that work. They can provide a confidential avenue for employees to voice their concerns by instituting an employee survey or 360-degree review on the bully.
Lynne Curry is author of Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, Jan. 2016) and co-contributor to the WBI Leaders’ Column to advise organizational leaders about strategies to deal with workplace bullying.
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
Z & H Foods Inc. is a Houston-based company that owns and operates two restaurant franchises — Popeyes and Louisiana Kitchen. At a Popeyes location on March 31, a hooded thief brandishing a handgun at staff robbed the store of about $400 from the cash registers when the woman shift manager, Marissa Holcomb, told him she had no access to the safe. Marissa was subsequently fired for violating a Z & H policy. Yes, the HR person (who has yet to be identified) justified the firing of a pregnant mom who was just robbed at gunpoint. The basis? Repeated violations of leaving too much cash in the registers.
If Holcomb was responsible for transferring the cash, she would likely have to store it in the safe, as opposed to paper bags or her personal purse. For that to happen, she would have had access to the safe where the largest amount of cash was stored. But Holcomb protected the safe, and therefore the company from losing even more money, by telling the robber that she had no access. The HR rep who justified the firing has now leaked to the public the fact that managers of Z & H-owned restaurants on all shifts have access to their safes. Oops. She just endangered every manager.
Not only is the company ungrateful for Holcomb’s minimizing company losses, the company is too dangerous to work for at any salary. Spread the word in Houston.
Here’s the story from KHOU-TV.
Let Z & H know what you think: 281-988-5726 or give them hell on their google+ site
Note the restaurant is a Popeyes. Popeyes is a Georgia-based franchiser and deflects all responsibility for the actions of its franchisees like Z & H.
Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
This Time, It’s Personal
Will legislation to protect employees from workplace bullying stifle demanding managers?
By Steven Yoder, Comstock’s, March 31, 2015
Carrie Clark, 63, says bullies aren’t confined to playgrounds. Sometimes, they run the whole school.
In 1995, Clark directed an English as a Second Language program in West Sacramento’s Washington Unified School District. An influx of foreign students was forcing her staff to work ever-longer hours. She wrote several reports to the district superintendent documenting the extra load and asking for more help. She got no response, she says. So her teachers union representative suggested she put together a petition signed by program staff.
That got a reaction, but not the one she wanted. The superintendent took Clark off of the school’s committee of department chairs and canceled and consolidated classes. Clark says he called her house and left an odd, garbled message, and one day after a meeting, he followed her into an empty hallway. Towering over her, his face a foot from hers, he screamed that he wanted “no more petitions!”
Scared, Clark quit a few weeks later. She developed tremors in her right side, which she still has, started having heart palpitations and couldn’t sleep. Today, when she talks about what happened, her speech slows to a crawl and her voice quavers like a warped record. A Sacramento occupational medicine specialist diagnosed her with a post-traumatic stress disorder related to her job. After a 20-year teaching career, she’d never set foot in a classroom again. In 2002, she won a $150,000 workers’ compensation claim against the district.
There’s evidence that the superintendent targeted others who crossed him. He took a job in a district near Yuba City, and in January 1999 the teachers association president there told The Valley Mirror that the superintendent verbally threatened her and that she’d asked a court for a restraining order. She also told a reporter that she was having panic attacks for the first time in her life. (The superintendent, now retired, keeps an unlisted phone number and didn’t respond to a certified letter sent to his address requesting an interview.)
Tags: AB 2053, abusive conduct, Ann Wrixon, bill, Carrie Clark, Gary Namie, Healthy Workplace Bill, HR, Independent Adoption Center, legislation, Michael Kalt, SHRM, workplace bullying
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Target Tale, WBI in the News, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Sunday, October 19th, 2014
Just in time for WBI’s Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week, James Woodson, Tuscaloosa Senior Assistant City Attorney introduced and the city council passed its first-ever workplace bullying policy (Ordinance No. 8144, Oct. 14, 2014). As documented elsewhere at the WBI site, a policy is necessary but not sufficient to comprehensively prevent and correct bullying. But it is a good preliminary step by any employer. Tuscaloosa will follow with training for staff and managers. We commend Mr. Woodson and the council. Woodson told his local TV station
“It wasn’t that many years ago that employers were adopting for the first time sexual harassment policies, then that became anti-harassment policies, and I think this is a natural extension to bullying, to essentially catch all of the inappropriate workplace behavior.”
[Earlier in 2014, Tennessee became the first state to encourage government agencies as employers to adopt policies to address abusive conduct.]
Here are the policy’s strengths and shortcomings.
Saturday, October 18th, 2014
Workplace bullying is a complex phenomenon because it is systemic with the majority of causes dwelling in the work environment, organizational culture. It is much more than personalities of targets and perpetrators. Thus, to stop it, we all need to pressure employers to stop running on autopilot and allowing bullying to happen as a normal routine way of doing business.
Here are WBI’s suggested actions for each of us in different roles and professions to pressure employers to reign in their out-of-control miscreants, to stop rewarding the misconduct, and to establish a positive workplace culture free of abusive conduct for the future.
Family & Friends
Co-Workers and Witnesses
Mental Health Professionals
Tags: bullied targets, employers, Freedom from bullies at work week, HR, workplace bullying, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Freedom Week, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Monday, September 29th, 2014
Career Builder commissioned an online Harris Poll to survey employed full-time private sector U.S. respondents. The prevalence of bullying was 28%. Career Builder findings can be extrapolated to their sample — people with full-time jobs in the private sector working for someone else.
Career Builder defined workplace bullying as
unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is often repeated over time. Bullying can include actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
The only diversion from traditional definitions is the inclusion of physical attacks. Bullying is non-physical assault, not battery.
WBI commissioned Zogby to conduct our 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey with a sample of all adult Americans that included unemployed workers (since bullying displaces so many of its targets). The prevalence of bullying was 27%. Our findings apply to all adult Americans, a broader sample.
The two studies are worth comparing. Both investigated bullying by race and rank.
Here are the major findings from the Career Builder survey (reprint of the CB press release).
• Minorities, the physically disabled and LGBT workers were bullied at a higher prevalence rate
• Women were targeted more than men (same for WBI)
• Managers were bullied at a 27% rate (it was 35% in the WBI 2007 national survey)
• Bullies were bosses (45%) and coworkers (46%); the WBI rates were 56% and 33%, respectively
• 48% of targets confronted their bully (WBI found that 69% had) and 45% of those people were successful at stopping the bullying (WBI found a paltry 3.57% success rate)
• 32% reported incidents to HR but in 58% of those cases nothing was done
According to the survey, the top five tactics were:
• Falsely accused of mistakes he/she didn’t make (43%)
• Comments were ignored, dismissed or not acknowledged (41%)
• A different set of standards or policies was used for the worker (37%)
• Gossip was spread about the worker (34%)
• Constantly criticized by the boss or co-workers (32%)
Regardless of the definition, this study reinforces our own work — workplace bullying is an American workplace scourge.
Tags: career builder, HR, prevalence, race, workplace bullying
Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, Workplace Bullying Laws | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (