8-Step Intervention Process to Create a Bully-Free Workzone

Kelly Kramer

October is National Bully Prevention Month

When we think of a bully, we may think of a school playground or perhaps locker room. But bullying takes place every day in boardrooms, breakrooms and offices across the nation and can lead to a hostile workplace.  

Bullying or Abusive Conduct in the workplace means conduct of an employer or employee, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. Bullying may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct or the sabotage of a person’s work performance. Bullying, like harassment, is typically cumulative in nature: but a single incident is enough to create a triable offense if the abusive conduct has unreasonably interfered with the employee’s work performance or created an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Some examples of bullying include:  Body shaming  Ridicule  Mimic, Insult or Sarcasm  Ignoring  Intruding into personal space  Spreading rumors Although no federal law directly addresses bullying, in some cases, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment when it is based on a protected characteristic like:  race  national origin  color  sex  age  disability  religion  

Some states, like California, include, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender expression, marital status, medical condition, genetic characteristics, cancer (or a record or history of cancer), or denial of family medical care leave or pregnancy leave. When bullying and harassment overlap, companies have an obligation to resolve the harassment. Even if bullying behavior is not based on these protected characteristics, companies have a responsibility to provide a hostile-free workplace. Effective intervention benefits everyone and can be an effective way for leaders in the workplace to STOP Bullying. For companies to effectively STOP BULLYING in the workplace, our Workplace Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention course introduces and recommends the 8-STEP INTERVENTION PROCESS.

8-Step Invention Process

1 – Document your conversation.

2 – Identify the specific behavior prohibited by policy

3 – Identify the policy that prohibits the behavior

4 – Respond to questions and concerns from the employee

5 – Ask the employee to stop the prohibited behavior

6 - Ask for and receive the employee’s commitment to stop that behavior in the future

7- Contact HR department, if applicable

8 – Monitor your workplace to ensure that the behavior has stopped

Most organizations ask their leaders to also contact HR when they intervene to stop behavior prohibited by the bullying and or anti-harassment/retaliation policy because it assists HR in: • identifying a pattern bully and harasser • tracking an employee’s history across departments to determine if the employee was previously told to stop • monitoring discipline that has been applied for similar situations to ensure consistency Leaders who intervene vs those who ignore bullying and prohibited behaviors are more effective at creating and maintaining bullying and harassment-free, inclusive and respectful workplaces.


Learn how to effectively train your employees to recognize and prevent bullying and abusive conduct.

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