Toward a Respectful Workplace

A Collaboration of
Michigan State University and the University of New Brunswick

MSU and UNB logos

The Goal

Imagine a world where everyone looked forward to going to work, and came home at the end of their working day feeling good about how they had spent their time, and how they were treated.

Work doesn’t just put food on the table and a roof over our heads. It’s central to our sense of identity, meaning and purpose, achievement, and belonging.


Workplace bullying and harassment are major impediments to a respectful workplace. They can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time, in any type of workplace.

Sources of bullying can include one’s boss, co-workers, subordinates, clients, subcontractors, the system itself, the public, and the media.




This toolkit is the result of two studies conducted by a research team and project advisory committee co-chaired by Dr. Judith MacIntosh (Retired from the Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick) and Marilyn Noble (community-based adult educator). Along the way, live and media-based public awareness presentations, workplace-based training sessions, individual cases brought to the team’s attention, and discussions with other researchers and practitioners have also contributed new perspectives and insights which are reflected here. Our information and resources are freely available to all workplaces and to the public.


This Toward a Respectful Workplace web site is based on the research findings of two studies conducted under the auspices of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Center for Family Violence Research housed at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. The original research co-chairs, Dr. Judith MacIntosh and Marilyn Noble, along with the current hosts of the site, Michigan State University’s WorkLife Office, are happy to share this site with you. It is intended to encourage discussion about how to develop more respectful workplaces, and to identify some starting points and guiding principles. It offers a general framework, but will need to be adapted to specific circumstances.

It also identifies a range of disrespectful behaviors and their impact. There is still considerable debate in the field of workplace bullying research about the most appropriate words to use to describe these behaviors. There may be some overlap in the definitions that we’ve included.

After exploring this Toolkit, you may find it necessary to consult with health care professionals, legal professionals, or others to assist you with any problem that you may be encountering. This Toolkit is not intended to replace the advice or services that they can provide, and we would encourage you to seek the help that you need.

We hope that employees, supervisors, managers, unions, human resource professionals, counselors, and others will find these materials helpful. We welcome any suggestions you might have about how to make this toolkit more useful.


Michigan State University (MSU) WorkLife Office wishes to thank the authors at the University of New Brunswick and all of the people who so generously shared their expertise as key informants during the two UNB studies. We also wish to acknowledge the funding support of the University of New Brunswick Research Fund Series 39 for the original work that lead to this 2020 update by MSU.


Funding for the original project was received from the Canadian Crime Prevention Partnership Program, National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention during 2006-2008. The updates in 2020 were funded by Michigan State University’s S-3 grant and the WorkLife Office.

S3 Grant

Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi people.  The University resides on Land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw.

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