New website helps faculty and staff prevent and address hostile and intimidating behavior

January 23, 2018

Faculty and staff members at UW–Madison now have a new online resource to help address instances of hostile and intimidating behavior on campus. The initiative is part of the university’s commitment to creating and maintaining an environment in which each individual’s contributions are valued and all members of the community are treated with respect.

A new website, hr.wisc.edu/hib, provides faculty, academic staff and university staff with information that will help them identify, prevent and address hostile and intimidating behavior (HIB). The website includes a definition of hostile and intimidating behavior, as well as information about what to do to prevent it and ways to address it when it happens.

A comprehensive list of on-campus resources is also provided, including several offices that offer advice, consultation and support. Faculty and staff can also contact one of 12 “liaisons,” members of the faculty and staff who are knowledgeable about hostile and intimidating behaviors and can direct individuals to the right resources. Translation and interpretation assistance is available for employees.

Hostile and intimidating behavior, sometimes known as “bullying,” is defined in university policy as “unwelcome behavior pervasive or severe enough that a reasonable person would find it hostile and/or intimidating and that does not further the University’s academic or operational interests.” Such behavior can occur both within and across employment sectors and power differentials, in any setting — the office, the lab, hallways — and in group meetings or one-on-one interactions. Common examples of hostile and intimidating behaviors are provided on the website.

“We all have a responsibility to treat others as we would wish to be treated,” says Laurent Heller, vice chancellor for finance and administration. “This policy will foster an environment free from behaviors that hamper the ability of individuals to do their best work. We must address hostile and intimidating behavior when it happens.”

Hostile and intimidating behavior (HIB) is common in both the private and public sectors, including colleges and universities. Studies show that even individual instances of such behavior can take a physical and emotional toll on the person it is aimed at, reducing the person’s work performance and hampering the effectiveness of both individuals and entire work units.

The new website is part of an effort to address instances of hostile and intimidating behavior on campus that began three years ago. New university policies were developed to ensure that hostile and intimidating behavior is addressed and stopped, regardless of when and how it happens. The university will continue to work to educate the campus community about what this behavior entails and how to address its corrosive effects.