Helping You Cope With & Stop



Workplace Bullying Policy: Complaint-Resolution Process

What You Can Do To Create Your Template for a Bully Free at Work Workplace Bullying Policy:

Have you ever been in a store or restaurant and the person helping you is indifferent to your customer experience while the sign above their head reads: “We value our customers”?  It is almost as if they are saying, “If the customer would just go away, I could get my work done.”  Without the customer, there is nothing else.  The same can be said for organizations.  Without effective loyal employees, there is nothing else.  That is why it is imperative to make sure your complaint and resolution process fully supports all involved.

Want to gain credibility and trust with your employees?  The Step 2: Complaint – Resolution Process will show you how!  It is vital that you add a solid complaint-resolution process to your policy.  It is the oil to the car to ensure your policy is understood and can be used with ease.  Be sure to read through and begin implementing these ideas that have worked for organizations all over the world.  (Feel free to pass this onto other people in your organization and ask them for their opinion).

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

Step 2: Complaint – Resolution Process

If you are being bullied at work:

  1. Keep a Bully Free at Work Log: Include incidents (date, times, locations, possible witnesses, what happened, your response).  You do not have to have a record of events in order to file a complaint; however, being able to show the repeated nature of the bullying will be key to gaining support.
  2. Attempt first, if you can, to tell the bully his/her behavior is unwelcome and ask him/her to stop.  Let them know you will not tolerate this behavior and that you will take action with your boss if these specific behaviors do not change (and be prepared to follow through).  Note: For a step-by step log documentation (Page 100) and ‘How To Confront the Bully for Resolution’ (Page 168) be sure to get the how-to’s in Bully Free At Work.  This goes into much more detail and it is also a go-to guide to make sure you have the confidence, capability and composure you need before making a move.
  3. Your policy should be able to identify the appropriate contact people.  Note the people to contact if there is a problem.  This contact list is to be available to all levels within the organization.
  4. Document how to file a workplace bullying complaint.  If, after asking the harasser to stop his/her behavior, the bullying continues, report the problem (along with your documentation), to one of the following individuals:
    1. Your direct boss to first of all avoid insubordination.
    2. If the bully is your boss, then an appropriate ‘same level of authority’ manager.  Note: If you are worried about approaching this person, ask for the invitation to share.  “May I share something with you and ask for your advice in the best support of the organization?”
    3. Department manager.
    4. Director of Personnel or Human Resources.
    5. Union representative.

Resolution Process:

1. Informal resolution: (See page 168 in Bully Free At Work for a full process):

  • This should be an option as long as all parties involved agree to it.
  • It can be an open dialogue between parties to work through the problem.
  • This option would require the person charged to be receptive to information about the effects of their abusive behavior.
  • The target usually has to initiate the discussion.  For best results, have witnesses, take witnesses and/or utilize your authoritative power in your boss’ support or the assistance of another authority figure.  This authority line should be noted for a  Bully Free at Work policy to be effective.

2. Formal resolution or Intervention:

Note: If you are struggling here which many organizations do, feel free to contact us for consultation. We take a measure twice, cut once approach and have helped many organizations.

  • Examples include mediation, negotiated agreements, restorative justice, other resolutions agreed to by all parties.
  • Most often used if the manager or authority is unaware or unwilling to conduct a successful resolution process between the two parties.
  • Accessing a specialist or bringing in a qualified intervention specialist is key for the target to feel like they can use the system with confidence.

Note:  Your written policy should:

  1. Show the process of complaint documentation toward a resolution outcome of who to approach and what to expect.
  2. Outline what to do next if the process as outlined is not working i.e. one’s direct boss, HR or a ‘go-to-person is not complying with the process as stated.
  3. Be accountable to both the target and noted bully for behavior change according to the values of your organization.


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2 responses to “Workplace Bullying Policy: Complaint-Resolution Process”

  1. Jetsin says:

    Cool! That’s a cleevr way of looking at it!

  2. Claudia Burton says:

    Your book and all of your articles are great!! The complaint and resolution process is also. I had to contact the Director of HR in the company I work for and was not told of any bullying policy and I was told that he would be working with my Manager. I have heard “nothing” since then and have seen no change. It’s as if they choose to ignore this type of behavior and would like to push any complaints under the carpet. But I have really appreciated this information. It keeps encouraging me. Thanks so much!!!

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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