Comment on ‘HR was useless’

Whistlebloweraustralia recently commented on an article ‘HR was Useless’ on the Minding the Workplace site.  The Minding the Workplace site is hosted by Professor David Yamada Professor of Law and Director of the New Workplace Institute at Suffolk University in Boston USA.

On May 13, 2010 at 10:38 pm Not all said:

I currently work as a HR Advisor after stumbling into the role from Training and Development. I was as cynical of HR as the average Joe until I actually joined the club. I try to approach all situations objectively as we are constantly faced with “your word against mine” scenarios. I tend to support the notion that communication is the key and often HR becomes the scapegoat for Managements lack of communication deliberatly or not (this includes the supervisor/employee relationship). Why oh why do so man supervisors find a one on one catch up with their staff so hard to fathom???

Many also fail to understand that although HR aims to be a part of the ‘strategic’ team, HR is rarely involved in the decisions that impact employees, and even when HR is advocating (unbeknown to staff) for employee’s, Management will always do what they want to do. HR is a thankless job where people feel entitled to treat you with as little respect as possible, until they actually need you – thats when the sickly sweet attitude comes in.

Currently my organization is faced with a situation where a Manager is a typical workplace bully, HR would like nothing more than to make this person accountable yet the employees come to HR stating that information they provide is confidential and they do not want it revealed – yet, they want us to do something with nothing to go on? We have asked them as a group to come forward, document everything, state it on their supervisors performance appraisal yet nobody stated anything negative. HR can not seriously be expected to do anything when the employees have effectively tied our hands. All staff need to realize that they are accountable to themselves and their standards first and foremost. If you want to change your workplace then make a stand and respectfully support your arguments. A good organization will be willing to receive feedback and open to change. If your organization is not like this then I would suggest reassessing your standards and whether this is the type of organization you would like to work for.

  • On July 29, 2011 at 1:32 am whistlebloweraustralia said:

    An article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, 23 may 2011 exposed William Tarnow Mordi, a neonatologist and director in the neonatal intensive care unit. Even obstetricians rescheduled their deliveries if he was on service to avoid him taking care of the babies. After 8 years, in 2008, an external investigation finally found that he should not be allowed to work in the neonatal unit.

    According to the same report Dr Michael Cole, another neonatologist in the unit, had repeatedly claimed to have been bullied for alerting management to the dangers faced by babies in the unit due to this lack of competence. These reprisals came from all levels of management including HR.

    A year earlier, in 2007, HR interviewed 43 staff members from the unit because of complaints of reprisals and bullying. Apparently every staff member decided not to say anything. They felt afraid to speak out because they had mortgages, family and careers to consider and they did not trust HR. They knew that HR cannot keep what is told to HR confidential. HR must release any complaint to the alleged bullies before any action can be taken. That would be normal due process and natural justice. Apparently no one disclosed any reprisals or bullying at all. Predictably HR found no evidence of bullying.

    Staff obviously felt more confident about discussing their concerns about William Tarnow Mordi’s lack of competence. This led to the external investigation in 2008.

    It appears that the staff involved in 2007did not trust HR and doubted HR’s promise of confidentiality. Proving allegations of bullying or reprisals would be difficult, especially in an organisation where the culture of bullying was endemic but denied (as found by the external investigation) and HR was part of that culture. Perhaps the staff felt on safer ground discussing their concerns about competence which is something better recognised and dealt with.

    All the staff involved, especially Dr Michael Cole, appeared to act as though they knew that HR is not the employee’s friend. HR works for and is paid by the organisation and is expected to work for the organisation’s benefit.

    Workplaces react to threats by eliminating the threat. It is often called ‘workplace bullying’ but is more correctly called ‘Mobbing’. HR is part of this mobbing unit. The process for removing staff, usually whistleblowing staff, is run by HR who could not accomplish the task without at least passive support from the administration.

    HR is not the employee’s friend.

See ‘HR was Useless’ on the Minding the Workplace site.

Bullying, Mobbing, Reprisals and Whistleblowing Resources

(Please contribute by suggesting useful sites in the comment area below. Links to this site are appreciated.)


Entry to Tim Field’s wonderful site dealing with Bullying, Mobbing and Reprisals
An encycopaediatic site covering an enormous body of knowledge on Bullying and Mobbing.
There is a useful and detailed though different ‘contents’ and ‘site-map’ area at the end of each page.
Sadly, for bullying to exist it must be at least passively tolerated by the most senior
managers including human resources. That means there is actually not much that one can do. 
But one must learn and understand what it is that is happening to one.
Bully on line
Another entry point to Tim
Field’s site.
Tim Fields book, Bully in Sight: How to Predict, Resist, Challenge and Combat Workplace Bullying
One of the best books for a bully target (victim). Sadly one will still lose.
The book is so packed with information that it will be difficult to find the information again when
you need it. Buy the book, use a pen to underline or draw a big box around important parts,
and stick post-it-notes on these important pages, so you can find the information again when you need it. 
Peter Hyatt’s insightful review of Tim Fields book, Bully in Sight
Peter Hyatt sums up the essence of bullying in reviewing Tim Field’s book.
Gary and Ruth Namie’s site – open at the law page and navigate from there
There is no law against bullying in the USA nor Australia. Generally going the legal
route will leave you broke. This page discusses the options. The Namies have lobbied hard
in the United States for laws against bulling. They have published a book, Bully at
Review by Brian Martin of 10 anti-bullying books
Also a portal to Brian Martin’s Suppression of Dissent Webpage


Shooting the Messenger

An excellent description of what happens during mobbing. But without mentioning the word Bullying or Mobbing.

Dr Heinz Leymann’s pioneering site on Mobbing
Dr Leymann first recognised a human social
behaviour called Mobbing.
As a psychologist he treated many
hospitalised victims of bullying and mobbing.

The Wikipedia site about Dr

Kenneth Westhues’
huge site on mobbing 
Kenneth Westhues is a Professor of Sociology. He has worked and published extensively on
the mobbing of academics (university and research staff).
Kenneth Westhues’ more general Home
Mobbing Portal. Gateway to the scientific study of ganging
At the Mercy of the Mob
A short
examination of Mobbing by K Westhues.
The Wikipedia site
about Kenneth Westhues
The site has many
mobbing and bullying links.

16 Signs of

Summary of the WAMI
for the 2004 Conference on Workplace Mobbing.
Animal Mobbing
Wikipedia site
explaining Mobbing in terms of instinctive animal
vs Mobbing
The differences
and similarities between bullying and mobbing.
Bullying vs
Heinz Leymann’s
discussion of the terms bullying and mobbing.
psychology experiments
Milgram showed that many humans will behave inhumanely if encouraged by an authority figure.
This may explain the disproportionate influence a ‘chief bully’ has during mobbing.
Later experimental variations showed that a bystander who spoke out
against the behaviour had a powerful influence in stopping the behaviour.
Teaching bystanders to speak up may be a useful means of reducing bullying, mobbing and
The Stanford Prison
One of many sites discussing the Stanford
Prison Experiment. Behaviourally it showed how the perpetrators group together
(mob) and how the targets are disempowered. At one level this is an example of the evolution
of mobbing.

European Experience

Victimization at work, Swedish law.url

Dealing with bullying at work – the
Norwegian lesson 

Search Results mobbing


Australia Inc

The Australian
Whistleblowers organisation. Many whistleblowing resources.
Just Fight On! Against workplace
bullying and abuse
The blog and
home for GAP (Government Accountability Project). Protecting mainly
USA whistleblowers since 1977.
GAP appears to
be a very professional organisation with a creditable record.
The Corporate
Whistleblower’s Survival Guide

A very clear
and informative guide to Whistleblowing. Don’t do anything until you
have read this book. An absolute must read.
It may be
that most bullying and mobbing in the workplace is in fact either a
reprisal for ‘outing’ improper behaviour
or a
pre-emptive strike reprisal against someone who it is feared might
expose those behaving improperly.
The guide was
written by senior members of GAP, mentioned above. Can also be obtained
The illusions of
whistleblower protection

There have been
some changes to the law since this article was published in 2002. In
2011 the law still ultimately fails to protect whistleblowers. The
protection is retrospective and may or may not be conferred by the
Court, investigation of the complaint is not mandatory, managers are not
legally responsible or liable for any reprisals, the whistleblower
cannot disclose to an independent source including the media in a timely
manner, etc
Suppression of Dissent
Portal to Brian Martin’s Suppression of


Other Resources

Home of Dob in a
Australasian Legal Information
Institute (AustLII)

BBC- One Life – Personal –
Bullying – Further Information

Bullying and Harassment at Work –
[2002] HotTopics 2

Bullying at work – Social life –
Relationships – Homepage – Connexions Direct

Bullying of Academics and
Circulars & Information
Do You Bully
Have You Been Bullied at Work –
Well Blog –

Mobbing and multistalker
harassment in Australia
The Mobbing
Workplace Bullying – The Drs.
Namie – US and Canada

Workplace Bullying
http– Papers-PDF-Hartig and
Frosch paper FINAL.pdf
Prevent bullying, violence,
harassment, mobbing and abuse in the workplace.

Resources by Topic Overview of
Workplace Mobbing

Search Results mobbing
VISTAS 2006 Title
Workplace Bullying Institute –
Legislative Campaign

Workplace Stress Caused by
Bullying at Kingston University

Please contribute by suggesting useful sites in the comment area below.

Links to this site are appreciated.

Last edited 9 July 2011