Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Umakanthan53
Labour Law & Hr Consultant
Nagarkar Vinayak L
Hr And Employee Relations Consultant
Nelsonthomas9102
Hr Executive
Prabhakardipesh25
Hr (talent Acquisition)

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Dear All,
Greetings!!
This is common question we HR get in most of the groups/social sites discussion. Sometimes, even few employees consulted us regarding this common issue which is very troublematic now a days in most of the Software companies.
We are seeing increase in cases, wherein an employee is unable to lodge complain regarding his or her manager's behaviour during working hours. Employees have this complain that his or her manager's behaviour is very rude which is like mental harrassment for them everyday. Though this doesn't include any physical misbehaving.
As per law or common corporate practice, what all options employees will have here? Is he authorised to lodge a complaint in near by police station or there's some different provision regarding this.
In many companies internal committee for such issues are not functional and even after so many meetings between HR, employee and employee's manager; employees are not getting solution for this serious issue.
Considering all above points, I would like to know, understand and discuss more in terms of legal options, an employee will have in such cases.
Regards,
Dipesh Prabhakar
Lead - Talent Acquisition

From Ghana, Kumasi
Hi Dipesh,
It is true that there may be no specific laws as of now against mental harassment at the workplace, unless the act of mental harassment can be linked to any other situation which has set laws in place, or ultimately to article 21 of the constitution which is about right to life and therefore right to employment being linked to sustain the right to life. Mental harassment can lead to a hostile work environment for the employee under focus here, hampering her/his ability to work at the organisation and thus threatening the means to support the person's livelihood and thus life.
This way, you can link actions leading to mental harassment, to various acts.

From India, Bengaluru
Dear Nelsonthomas9102,

I appreciate, the way you presented your thoughts. In most of cases, employees don't complaint to management regarding this, because of:

(1) Fear of lossing job

(2) Defeming

(3) Thinking Manager's may have better hold on decision makers' view and employees fear that that'll be unheard even after formal complain

(4) Employees don't know the process or legal clauses related to it other side employer may have various legal options and information to deal with such cases.

I understood talking to many people lately that somewhere they feel assaulted, demotivated and mentally harrassed due to mangers/lead/management's behaviour.

Considering all these points I have initiated this discussion here to have better clarity, thought process and may be some sort of solution and legal advice.

From Ghana, Kumasi
Dear Dipesh Prabhakar,

Growth of the organisation depends on the organisation culture that the leader creates. The organisation is considered the lengthened shadow of the leader. Against this backdrop, what kind of culture to create is the call that top leadership has to take.

Employee motivation depends on the culture of fairness and the culture of justice. Another important thing is upward communication in the organisation. The top leadership must create a mechanism wherein he/she listens to the juniors and that too through formal communication.

HR plays a vital role in identifying cases of abrasive behaviour by Managers. For this, they must well-connected with each and every department. They must attend the briefing given to the employees whenever working hours start or at the beginning of the shift. HR must maintain records on the attended briefings. In addition to the briefing, HR needs to stay connected with the employees also.

All said and done, what matters is follow up action by the top management. What poor HR will do if no action is taken? If HR will do if they are loaded with the clerical work and the routine leave no time for them to stay connected?

Therefore, this brings the ball in the court of top management. Not many Managing Directors understand that the growth of the organisation depends on employee motivation. In many companies, MDs behave very badly with the employees. This creates a culture of disaffiliation and disconnect. The employees wade through this mental disconnect as much as they can, when it becomes unbearable, they quit the company!

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Dinesh Divekar,
Greetings!!
Thanks for your valuable comments! I second it.
Based on till now inputs, I have understood; mental harassment issue is more related to company's culture and level of trust it creates with it's employees. If Top Management & HR leaders are connected well with employees, company's resources will be more confident to highlight such issues to them. Unfortunately, Top management/leaders are unable to understand it well and managers/leads are taking advantage of it.
Based on valuable inputs till now received, I have got one point which may be helpful for me and others as well: it is company's HR and Top Management responsibility to create healthy environment, to gain trust of employees so that whenever employees feel they are mentally harassed, they can talk to concerned people.
Till now legal aspects of such issues are somehow not clear to me though. May be few more round of discussions here will help me.
I'm trying to find solution for suffered people, which is; As per law or common corporate practice, what all options employees will have here? Is he/she authorized to lodge a complaint in near by police station or there's some different provision regarding this.
Thanks & Regards,
Dipesh

From Ghana, Kumasi
Dear Prabhakar,

Jonathan Haidt's " The elephant and the rider " metaphor equally applies to every manager and the people managed by him in the organization. As a manager is the most obvious mentor to his subordinates, it is he who invariably mars or makes the career of his team members. Unfortunately, either due to pressures of his position or the incompatibility of a particular subordinate with his own role, a manager loses his control and frowns upon the subordinate. When it becomes routine, it leads to mental harassment or emotional harassment of the employee concerned who may be poor in his capabalities as expected of by the manager. However, insulting is different from indignation or pulling up.

Though the discussion so far covered the need for avoiding such bullying by managers and the importance of employee motivation and engagement, still you require specific legal remedy for the affected employee. So far as I know, there is no special law on this subject in India barring the PosH Act. Of course there are certain Constitutional provisions, provisions under the CrPC and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. But, they are cumbersome and time consuming. If the HR is as effective as suggested by our friend Mr.Dinesh, the Grievance Settlement Committee constituted u/s 9-C of the IDA, 1947 would help eradication of mental harassment of workman category employees by their supervisors or line managers at the establishment level itself. But what about the category of gold-collared employees across the hierarchy in the organizations?

Of course, there are managers with the trait of ever fault finding under the influence of their own feigned superiority complex for they may be actually and relatively inferior. Such managers are every where. A calculated " bliss of ignorance " by the subordinate employee is the only intelligent way of handling such managers to avoid further escalations.

This apart, every employee facing such an inevitable situation of work place mental harassment should not lose his/her mental equanimity but rather respond to the situation by analyzing it dispassionately, assessing the various options available before him/her, weighing the options and choosing the best option suitable to his/her long run career benefits.

A manager may, at times, be a little bit rude in his words, perhaps, because of the degree of mistake or negligent act committed by the employee and the employee should take it in good stead rather paying back in the same coin. On the contrary, if it affects his self-respect, of course he should appropriately respond keeping the adage " Diamond cuts diamond " in mind.

From India, Salem
Dear Colleague,

The querist is concerned about the increasing cases of mental harassment in the organization caused by the the rude behaviour of the Suprior. It appears some efforts are made to sort out in a meeting with the Manager, employee concerned and the HR but of no avail and the problem continues to persist. The querist, therefore, is looking for legal options the concerned employee has including approaching police if it helps.

I think some actual data of incidences of rude behavior if cited, would have been of great help Like what is the nature of mental harassment, is it unprovoked shouting or gesturing, taunting , passing comments, deliberately insulting making passes ( at female staff) etc. All this and similar behaviour if displayed by the Superior/ Manager ranks for counselling by his Superior and if still persisted will merit disciplinary action like issuing show cause notice, chargesheeting , conducting domestic enquiry and awarding an appropriate punishment as per Model Standing Orders/ Service Rules or in its absence by following the Principles of Natural justice.

Since it is an internal matter, I don't believe Police will be willing to interfere.

In my view, the repetition and continuation of the type of the rude behaviour is because of the absence of effective action so far on the part of the Management in nipping it in the bud. As there is no fear of disciplinary action, it appears, the Suprior get emboldened to continue.

While what cases I have cited above as constituting obvious cases of mental harassment, it should be remembred that it is matter of ' Perception', as for one a particular behavior may appear rude but for other it may not. It is tight rope walk in the absence of clear cut definition of the mental harassment.

But on the preventive side of this issue, I do share the same view of the learned colleagues that the culture of trust and fear free open communication must be built through matching HR policies like Code of Conduct at work place ,institutionlizing and putting in place well knitted Hr practices.

Regards,

Vinayak Nagarkar

HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai
Dear Umakanthan Sir,
Greetings!!
Having this discussion here on this platform is really helpful. I have got different perspective and can/will be able to see this situation in different ways in near future. Ideas to deal with such situation may have below points which I could find based on your valuable inputs.
(1) The elephant and the rider, Metaphor: which clearly denotes: our emotional side is the Elephant and our rational side is the rider
(2) PoSH act. - need to check the criticality and opportunities lies here
(3) Grievance Committee
(4) Assessing the various options available
(5) Diamond Cuts Diamond
We need to study & judge each situation differently and then act accordingly based on above inputs.

From Ghana, Kumasi
Dear Vinayak Nagarkar,
Greetings!!
Yes, we all are concerned about increasing cases of mental harassment in almost all the Software Companies now a days. Having these rounds of discussion with people and experts like you and all above members certainly change our way of thinking and provides different perspective for the same situation.
I have seen manager manage these situations very politically using their power. As suggested by you, having some actual data of incidences of rude behavior may help management to take strict action and I second you, "perception" plays a major role in all situation. I have observed too, people do behave differently in-front of different people.
We are mentoring HRs in different forums regarding these issues.
Organization's HR policies need to be reviewed periodically as per companies need (for me, we can't copy paste policies from other organizations as policies should always be based on "legal aspects" & "need of company". This also confirms, creating "culture of trust" along with effective & well communicated HR policies (to all employees) may help overcome these situations gradually.
Regards,
Dipesh Prabhakar

From Ghana, Kumasi
Dear Colleague,
It would be great learning if you share how you have converted into concrete actions the take aways on the wisdom of thinking put out here by some of the learned and experienced professionals on your specific query of mental harassment at work place.
Regards,
Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai
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