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Zero tolerance policies sound good, but are they arbitrary?

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HC Online | 10 May 2012, 12:00 AM Agree 0
HR has rightly set the bar high in taking policy measures to stamp out physical, sexual and verbal harassment in workplaces – but often zero tolerance can do more harm than good.
  • Bernie Althofer | 11 May 2012, 08:28 AM Agree 0
    This serves to illustrate the complexity of counterproductive behaviours and how a zero tolerance approach can be fraught with risk, not only to the organisation, but also to the individual.

    Notionally, having a zero tolerance approach to counterproductive workplace behaviours sounds like a good idea. However, the problems lie in the application and implication of the policy and procedure. As the article indicates, there has to be consistency across the board and everyone irrespective of position, level, rank, title etc, has to be treated the same.

    The article also indicates the importance of linking organisational systems and processes so that there is consistency. For example, there could be conflict if a workplace bullying/harassment policy does not align with a Code of Conduct, or is not linked to employment contracts or performance management systems.

    Given the possibility that at any time anyone could be accused of workplace bullying, a zero tolerance approach would in theory be unworkable, or could be used unfairly and unjustly to 'target' someone for no apparent reason.

    By all means work towards reducing the risk of counterproductive behaviours and have appropriate policies and procedures, but also ensure that the application and implementation is fair and just for all who may have to respond.
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