Workplace bullying is a silent epidemic that creates significant risk management issues for employees, enterprises and potential shareholders. It requires decisive and committed action from CIOs and senior executives. As organizations address greater transparency in response to financial reform and governmental mandates in financial reporting, it is critical for IT executives to leverage people and technology to prevent this form of behavior from occurring and taking root within their workplaces.
Employers who fail to adopt smart people policies and practices may be facing potential litigation when behavior crosses the line and employees become targets, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and Time. Sixteen states have introduced legislation that would allow employees who have been physically, psychologically or economically abused while on the job to file charges against their employer, direct managers, and bystanders.
Leading From the Front
CIOs are well poised to add strategic value by:
- Conducting vulnerability assessments of IT leaders and professional staff.
- Designing a collaborative and clear, written policy that communicates zero tolerance toward inappropriate, hostile behavior through personal and/or various technologies, including smartphones, texting, and social media.
- Demonstrating swift action when workforce intelligence identifies risk.
- Leveraging internal social media channels to communicate and reinforce IT's commitment to addressing concerns.
- Re-aligning performance measures of IT leadership team.
- Establishing an enterprise-wide reporting system, an integrity/ethics hotline, and overall process that sends alerts to a designated officer about threatening behaviors.
- Optimizing collaboration platforms and business intelligence tools for increased transparency, communication and accountability.
- Managing, measuring, and monitoring workplace stress.
By addressing the issue head-on, pro-active CIO's will reduce risk management issues and create an environment that fosters top performance and execution of strategic initiatives whereby employees are engaged, feel valued, and safe.