​Workplace Bullying Case Study: Seeking a Solution

by HCA07 Feb 2014
Meahan CallaghanSEEK has a zero-tolerance stance on bullying. The company’s HR director, Meahan Callaghan, shares her insights on workplace bullying with HRD 

HRD: What are some internal initiatives SEEK has implemented to stamp out bullying?

Meahan Callaghan: For us, it starts with recruitment. All candidates who secure a role at SEEK undertake psychometric and cultural tests to ensure they understand, and will thrive, in the culture that we have established. We are clear in the recruitment process of our company values and the behaviours associated with these. We are very specific that we are after people who can participate in active debate, that can challenge and question, and are open to being challenged. However, we stress that this is never to be at the expense of showing respect for each other.

Every person at SEEK is measured against both what they do (goals) and how they go about it (values). Anyone who does behave inappropriately would be seen as a low performer regardless of the results they are delivering.

HRD: Are there any forms of bullying that don’t appear to be widely reported? Why do you think this is?

MC: You don’t hear a great deal about direct-report to-manager bullying [referred to as upwards bullying in this feature]. I think there is an emphasis on the behaviours of managers to their direct reports.

I also believe it is a big shame that the cases that get the most attention typically imply male employees bullying female employees. Sadly, I have seen female-to-female bullying a great deal.

HRD: What advice can you give to employers if they believe their employees are being bullied, or if they think a worker is a bully? 

MC: Take immediate action. Look for evidence in a range of areas as the person being bullied may avoid telling you for fear of consequences. Never let a matter be ignored as you are sending a signal that you don’t take bullying seriously or will tolerate certain types of bullying or by certain people. Don’t be afraid of making the action you take public in your organisation; by talking to people about a situation that has happened, it can raise awareness and education of the issue. It makes your culture stronger.

Have courage and tackle all situations regardless of their seniority, performance history and service with the company. Take a strong public stand in your organisation.