Helping You Cope With & Stop



Why Most Bullying Policies Don’t Work: What You Can Do

“When the promise (policy) is clear, the price is easy to pay (for holding workplace bullies accountable to poor behavior).” Why is it that most organizations would answer “I don’t know” or “maybe” or “no” to the question: “Do you have a workplace bullying policy?” Most organizations do not have one. For the same reason that we have speed limits on roads, organizations need workplace bullying policies. Have you been to a country without a speed limit? They’re not advantageous! Point made.

For those organizations that do have a workplace bullying policy, the next question, as a well known psychologist, Dr. Phil would say, is “So, how’s that working for you?” If an organization does happen to have a workplace bullying policy, most people in that organization would say this:

  1. “I didn’t know we had a policy.”
  2. “This policy is too hard to understand.”
  3. “My boss doesn’t believe in the policy.”
  4. “We don’t need a policy!”
  5. “I tried to follow the steps but the people I needed for support such as my boss, HR and the union, did not effectively follow the policy.”
  6. “The process was dragged out so long that I became ill and had to quit anyway.”
  7. “I was dismissed before I could effectively work within the guidelines of the policy.”

And the main reason these policies do not work is that people with authoritative power do not use their power effectively to uphold the policy. Many times when a target comes forward they will be met with denial, dismissal, defending tactics, discounting (telling the target they shouldn’t feel that way or that the target’s perception is “wrong”) and there is a debate and a non-acknowledgement of “the situation”.

Here are 2 questions everyone should ask:

  1. Do you believe your organization should have a workplace bullying policy?(On a scale of 1-5, 5 = Yes,100%! and 0 = No. Note: If not a ‘5’ , then ask what could make it a ‘5’?)
  2. If your organization does have a workplace bullying policy, how would you rate its effectiveness? (On a scale of 1-5, 5 = Yes,100%! and 0 = No. Note: If not a ‘5’ , then ask what could make it a ‘5’?)

We suggest involving employees in creating your policy in order to create buy-in.

How To Create An Employee Discussion for Meaningful Feedback:

  1. If you have a fairly good culture, then open sessions are great.
  2. If your culture’s morale is suffering from workplace bullying, then consider a confidential survey to all employees Feel free to contact us for help in this area:
  3. If morale is suffering terribly, you most likely need an intervention. A 1:1 approach with all employees is your most effective roll-out here, not an open session or survey.
  4. Make notes of all discussion items, showing participants their feedback will be taken seriously.
  5. Share the intent of the session: you are wanting to create a respectful workplace.
  6. Share with employees what you will do with this feedback (summary) and then when you will address their concerns (date) and be able to keep this commitment of getting back to employees in a timely way.
  7. Do something about the concerns.
  8. For concerns you cannot change, tell why. Do not ignore anything!
  9. Stay on time and end well!
  10. Ask for any suggestions for improvement at any time. You may get more 1:1 feedback.


Step 1: Purpose, Statement and Examples
Step 2: Complaint – Resolution Process
Step 3: Taking Action for Top Results
Step 4: Consequences for Bullying Behavior
Step 5: Creating Buy-In to Your Workplace Bullying Policies.

Many organizations have contacted us to assist them with not only developing their policies but securing the buy-in as well. Feel free to be in touch!


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8 responses to “Why Most Bullying Policies Don’t Work: What You Can Do”

  1. Steve says:

    Bullying in the workplace is left to the individual to resolve.
    I have worked at several large international companies in Australia. HR response to bullying complaints ;
    -take some cement and harden up
    -you need to crack a few eggs to make an omelette
    Bullying is swept under the carpet and not talked about and not investigated.
    The bully’s are promoted out of the position.

  2. Bully Free at Work: Valerie Cade says:

    Well said! You explain your situation very well and I am so sorry you are having to experience what tends to happen a lot of the time. Yes, Bully Free at Work agrees with you in that unless the leadership aligns with follow through then the target is usually exposed. My experience has been that these situations (can be) difficult to navigate for so many reasons – the situations are often not clear, strong personalities, not enough time to truly implement protection and the main one, not having the true confidence to move forward boldly with a plan that can actually solve the problem. So many factors and yet you as the target now are trying to figure out what to do with all the moving parts. Feel free to give us a call if you feel we can help. I’d be more than happy to take the time – and also know there might be (some) things that could be done with out it being a threat to anyone. Know we are in your corner and thank you for sharing your very real situation.

  3. Louralee says:

    As great as this site is, unless the employer will step up and enforce their workplace violence and harassment policies nothing will get done and the violence/harassment situation will continue. I am going through it right now. I work at a group home. Some of the co-workers tried to get me to jump on the bandwagon to target another team player; I rejected the cliche and am the target now. Many times I have found at let one of the cliche members breaking policy. Brought up to the coordinator and its minimized, brought it up to hr and program director and its minimized again. The cliche has gone as far as sending malicious innuendos that I am trying to frame them. HR and program director wanted to do a mediation. I told them, unless the organization is mediating their policies, there is nothing to mediate. Called in union reps. Waiting to see how it goes. Just by the response from the company alone, I’ve lost respect and don’t even feel like working there anymore. It’s sad. It’s as if the perpetrators in all of this get away with what they do and the targets are stuck having to prove that the gross injustice happened. Targets are violated over and over in these kinds of situations. Its disgusting!!!

  4. Michelle says:

    What city do you work in, Yvonne?

  5. […] Why is it someone has to get killed before the construction of a traffic light or stop sign? The same can be said for organizations in creating respectful workplaces (and being protective against workplace bullying). Why wait? Last week we opened our series with Why Most Bullying Policies Don’t Work & What You Can Do. […]

  6. Scared at Work says:

    This is a great site. I really appreciate someone saying something about being Bullied at work. I am currently a victim of such an environment and despite bringing it to my superiors attention in a verbal manner, nothing has been done about it. In addition, I am scared. I am afraid of the bully and tend to make mistakes at work because I am worried constantly of making a mistake. I have been told my boss to find a different job yet nothing has been done in regards to the situation at work. I have voiced my concerns before and I cried at work, have been shaking, yet in turn I was told that I was a emotionally weak person and have communication problems and that I have been the one who should “learn how to speak properly”. I am so worried but I know I can not do much about this place. Although I am looking for a different job, i can not quit, yet i have been told constantly to quit.
    What should I do, the market is so bad that it is difficult to find a job and it is becoming more difficult each time to breath at work. I have this co-worker who is best friends’ with the manager and she isolates me, recently screamed at me in front of others in the middle of the lab and i afraid she will slap me next time.


  7. Yvonne says:

    I am involved in occupational health and safety within my organisation and although we do have a Bullying Policy and have had to implement it on a small number of occasions, there is room for improvement in terms of the policy itself and informing and educating our managers and employees so we still have some work to do.
    Also, I am often asked by employees of other organisations or family members of employees from other companies to advise and offer my opinion on bullying in the workplace. There is plenty of evidence that bullying is very common and very poorly dealt with the majority of the time by many companies.

  8. carl almodovar says:

    Unless people unite and support this bullyfree
    Workplace more people will suffer and die yes right
    Here in the united states. I understand it will take a
    Strong org of many people. I know unions work this
    Way. This must be like the union that works with the
    Unions because they have not the indepth understanding
    Of this problem.

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Valerie Cade, CSP is a Workplace Bullying Expert, Speaker and Author of "Bully Free at Work: What You Can Do To Stop Workplace Bullying Now!" which has been distributed in over 100 countries worldwide. For presentations and consulting on workplace bullying prevention and respectful workplace implementation, go to

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