What is reverse power harassment?

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Among power harassment (power harassment) that occurs in the workplace, the most typical case is known as "supervisor to subordinate" harassment. Managers who are in a superior position in the company may not be generally recognized as potential victims of harassment.

In some cases, however, harassment from a "subordinate to a superior" occurs and requires attention. This article describes "reverse power harassment" in which a person in a superior position in the workplace becomes a victim.

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What is reverse power harassment?

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Power harassment (power harassment) is an act of harassment that takes advantage of differences in position. Although the person in a superior position is often the perpetrator and the person in a subordinate position is often the victim, the opposite is also true.

Here is an overview of what reverse power harassment means, what causes it to occur, and the risks of leaving damage untreated.

Definition of reverse power harassment

Reverse power harassment" refers to harassment in the workplace by a subordinate against his or her superior.

Power harassment is defined as "language or behavior based on a superior relationship that goes beyond what is necessary and reasonable in the course of work and that harms the working environment of the worker" and meets three requirements.

[Source.Definition of Harassment" Akarui Shokuba Ouen Dan, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfareicon

Generally, the supervisor has an advantage over the subordinate. However, in certain situations, such as the following, subordinates may have an advantage over their superiors. For example, when a subordinate's skill and cooperation are indispensable for the smooth execution of work, or when a superior is unable to resist due to group actions.

Major causes of reverse power harassment

Reverse power harassment is not well recognized.

This is a case where there is insufficient understanding of reverse power harassment within a company. Many employees are under the impression that "power harassment is something that a superior does to a subordinate. Many companies instruct managers not to engage in power harassment, but only tell general employees where to consult and how to deal with it.

When working to prevent harassment, it is also important to explain that inappropriate behavior or harassment toward a supervisor constitutes reverse power harassment.

There is a gap in skill and age between supervisor and subordinate.

Circumstances where the subordinate is older than the supervisor or has more experience on the job are also factors in reverse power harassment. Due to the reversal of experience and ability levels, subordinates may belittle their superiors, causing reverse power harassment and bullying.

Lack of management skills of supervisors

Subordinates may develop problems of reverse power harassment as a result of growing dissatisfaction with their supervisors' management. In many cases, the problem is left unresolved because the supervisor is unable to consult with others or obtain help from colleagues, and the situation worsens.

The spread of internal information about power harassment on the Internet and social networking sites may lead to a decline in the company's image and sales. It may be difficult to secure human resources and may affect the development of the company's business.

Disadvantages of Neglecting Reverse Power Harassment to a Company

Reduced productivity in the workplace

If the work environment deteriorates due to reverse power harassment, motivation to work will be undermined, leading to lower employee productivity.
Declining productivity can lead to a negative cycle of deteriorating business performance, which in turn can lead to an increasingly deteriorating work environment.

Increased emotional burden on supervisors

If reverse power harassment becomes the norm, the psychological stress of the supervisor increases, and the risk of mental illness increases. Health problems such as depression and adjustment disorder may occur, leading to leave of absence or resignation, and in the worst case, incidents or accidents.

Risk of being sued in court for damages.

If a company fails to take preventive measures against reverse power harassment or ignores consultations, the victim supervisor may file a lawsuit based on employer liability or breach of the duty of care for safety.
There are also precedents that have recognized an employer's damages for reverse power harassment, as well as precedents that have ruled that the Labor Standards Inspection Office's decision not to certify workers' compensation was unfair.

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Major cases of reverse power harassment and how to deal with them

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What are some specific examples of power harassment from a subordinate to a superior? This section provides information on major examples of reverse power harassment and how to respond when a suspected case occurs.

Specific Examples of Reverse Power Harassment

Violence and abusive language

Direct violence such as punching or kicking, or verbal abuse that hurts others is considered harassment, regardless of whether it is directed at a superior or subordinate. It is important to note that verbal abuse here includes spreading rumors that are detrimental within the company, slandering on social networking sites, etc.
If you post something on a social networking site that identifies an individual supervisor, it may be considered defamation.

Overreaction to appropriate attention and guidance

If the supervisor's attention and guidance are appropriate and do not exceed the necessary and reasonable scope of the job, the following subordinate's reaction may constitute reverse power harassment.
For example, "I will sue for power harassment," "I will go to the Labor Standards Inspection Office for consultation," "If there is no apology, I will consult a lawyer and file a lawsuit," and so on.

Abandonment of duties or unauthorized absence from work despite proper instruction by the supervisor can also constitute reverse power harassment.

Isolation from relationships by groups

When several subordinates conspire to collectively ignore their superiors or isolate their superiors in their internal relationships, it is considered reverse power harassment. The problem with such group harassment is that it is difficult for an individual to resist it, even if he or she is in a superior position as a manager.

Requests for reassignment or dismissal

There is no problem for a company to order an employee to be reassigned or dismissed if there is a justifiable reason. However, in cases where a subordinate who is engaged in reverse power harassment requests the reassignment or dismissal of his or her supervisor, care must be taken because confirming the facts with the supervisor may be burdensome for the employee and may also lead to trouble.

What to do if reverse power harassment is suspected

If you are the victim of reverse power harassment, it is important to involve your supervisor's superiors and take a firm organizational stance. If the supervisor is left to deal with the situation alone, the psychological burden may become too great, and mental health problems may result.

In such cases, make a record of the attention and guidance given to subordinates, and objectively confirm the facts based on evidence of suspected reverse power harassment and the testimony of the employee. If it is difficult to resolve the issue internally, we recommend that you consult with a third-party organization.

Power harassment and other problems can also be discussed at public services such as the General Labor Consultation Corner, Kaiketsu Support, Houterasu, and Minna no Houjin 110.

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Measures to prevent reverse power harassment problems

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What measures should be taken to prevent reverse power harassment problems within a company? Finally, we will explain the measures that companies can take.

Conduct harassment training

Harassment training is a measure to raise awareness of problematic behaviors that fall under the category of reverse harassment and lead to early detection of suspicious cases. In addition to outsourcing, there are other ways to customize training content for your company by using an e-learning system.
At the same time, management training aimed at improving supervisors' leadership skills should also be conducted.

Establish provisions for harassment in employment regulations.

An internal system must be in place to prevent harassment. In addition to clearly stating the disciplinary actions to be taken against power harassment offenders, the employment regulations should also stipulate the company's anti-harassment policy and make it known to employees.

Keep records of attention and guidance to subordinates.

In confirming the fact of reverse power harassment, it is necessary to clarify that appropriate attention and guidance were given to subordinates. Have the relevant manager keep a record of the guidance, including the date, time, and reason for the guidance, the specific content of the guidance, and the subordinate's reaction.

Establish an in-house consultation service.

For early detection and resolution of power harassment and other harassment problems, we will establish an in-house consultation service and encourage employees to use it.
As a countermeasure against reverse power harassment, it is effective to educate not only general employees but also managers that they can use the consultation service.

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To promote awareness of reverse power harassment within the company

Reverse Power Harassment, in which a supervisor becomes a victim of power harassment, was explained. Reverse power harassment tends to be less recognized than general power harassment. We encourage you to conduct harassment training in your workplace to spread understanding of various types of harassment and prevent damage.

Please use the harassment training contents of "learningBOX ON" to inform your employees about harassment in your company.

LearningBOX ONis a service that makes it easy to add company-required training content to learningBOX, an e-learning creation and management system. You can easily design your own original learning courses by combining them with your company's in-house content.

Harassment Trainingand ... andCompliance Trainingcontent and more are available free of charge, so we encourage you to use them for your in-house training.

▼Here's another recommendation! Also read.

What is "harassment" in the workplace? Explaining the types of harassment and specific ways to deal with them

Power harassment and sexual harassment are well-known among "harassments" that harass or disadvantage others, but nowadays harassments are becoming more diverse and complicated, especially bothering those in charge of human resources. In this article, we will touch on the different types of harassment and introduce specific ways to deal with them. If you are in charge of human resources at a company, please refer to this article. Table of Contents...

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