Bullying is often directed at older people in the workplace

Posted 15 October 2014 at 12:00 am


Bullying is all the talk these days. The problem is that talking, without acting, doesn’t get it done.

Though many people view bullying as a fact of life among younger people, it is clear that bullying is also prevalent among older people in the workplace.

Most of us understand that older employees perform vital roles across America in acclimating younger workers to their jobs. It is expected that senior staff persons provide guidance for those less experienced. In some cases they are encouraged to mentor. More often, helping the recently hired avoid unnecessary “hard knocks” and better accomplish an organization’s mission naturally happens without direction. It is an expectation nearly everywhere.

When a person with 30 years experience at one job takes the initiative to give a new employee a “heads up” on a potentially at-risk pre-schooler, that senior staff person is behaving logically. When the same 30-year employee sees five students show up for unscheduled community service – without a teacher – on a Saturday morning and contacts the teacher to determine what might be scheduled, that senior staff person is acting according to what a logical person would think is expected of her. In doing her job in these ways, such an employee can better avoid potential organizational liability for failure to act.

In the above – and other – cases, it defies common sense that the senior staff person’s “Director” would belittle and criticize such appropriate responses and berate, chastise, ridicule and otherwise bully the 30-year employee for doing what a sensible person would think was called for under the circumstances.

It may be hard to imagine a workplace reality in which people end up being fired for being responsible.

Where, one might ask, could such utter nonsense be taking place? Where could a 30-year employee get fired for standing up to a bully while doing her job as she always has?

It is certainly not too late for Albion’s Hoag Library Board to avoid a major mess.

When it comes time to decide whether to retain the Hoag Library’s new “Director,” let us be clear about one thing. Those who vote to retain him will be putting their stamp of approval on bullying, plain and simple.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent