Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Japan: Workforce Power Harassment (Bullying) Prevention

In the previous months, bullying has been highlighted in the media across the United States, and many other countries internationally like UK, Australia, Canada, and other parts of the world.

Source: maps.com

In Japan, the so called "power harassment" has been an issue. The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare published a report that defines harassment in the workplace. This provides guidance to companies that harassment must be eliminated in the workplace. The number of complaints of power harassment increased in 2010 with reported cases of 39,400 compared to 6,600 cases in 2002.

A labor ministry official said, "that defining "pawahara" represents the first step toward dealing with the issue", TV Asahi reported.

"Power Harassment" is defined as any kind of behavior in which a senior person takes advantage of his or her position in the workplace to cause coworkers physical or psychological pain.

The Guidance Recommendation: (klgates.com)
1. Have a clear message about power harassment from top management
2. Establish a consultation area
3. Determine the company rules regarding power harassment
4. Prevent reoccurrence through training sessions
5. Recognize the current situation of the company
6. Announce the company's policy to all employees

In the published report it identified six categories of actions that relates to power harassment. They are;
1. Committing acts of physical abuse or assault
2. Committing mental or psychological attacks such as intimidation, defamation or slander or insulting
3. Isolating or ignoring individuals
4. Making excessive demands, such as assigning work that is impossible to perform or is clearly unnecessary
5. Making demeaning demands, such as assigning work that is clearly below the employee's ability or experience or assigning work at all
6. Intruding or invading into employee's personal life

A strategic action that companies will take is to conduct an employee education and establish policy awareness of power harassment issues at a regular basis.

While the preventive measures may differ depending on the size and setting of the organizations, a court of law might likely review the policy measure to determine whether the company violates its duty to supervise and provide a safe workplace for employees. In establishing a power harassment policy, human capital and resources management responsible in this initiative must consult an outside counsel who are expert in employment law in Japan.

The guidance issued by the Japanese Ministry advocate clearer communication of policy and continuous education among employees about the preservation of safe workplace instead of growing power harassment.

Education is always a prime source of adequate knowledge that will provide someone to act effectively, professionally and with care. Particularly when within a setting that relate to different people like the workplace. The workplace is an environment where collaborative efforts are expected. However, demonstration of behaviors that are demanding attention, power assertion, discriminating, and unprofessional must be avoided.

This type of strategic initiative where continuous education must be enforced should be practiced globally across business units of organizations. The professionals in the department of human capital and resources management should not wait for issues to arise. Instead, they calendar a regular educational sessions that are interesting, interactive and meaningful to all employees. Identify many techniques that will transfer the learning on this particular issue to employees in that way, they are encourage to attend.  Many failures of educating people is the monotony of session techniques that has been used over and over. Hire an experienced Consulting Trainer who can help you identify various alternative approaches that will gain interest from your audience.

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Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
6 http://www.klgates.com 
7 http://www.japantoday.com

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