Workplace Bullying - are you on the front foot?

Workplace Bullying – what is it and how do you prevent it happening in your workplace? We have all heard of the term, Workplace Bullying, but what is it, and do you need to know more about it?

Workplace bullying is repeated; “unreasonable behaviour” directed towards an employee or a group of employees that creates a risk to health and safety. Unreasonable behaviour is behaviour that a reasonable person having regard to all circumstances would expect to victimise, humiliate, undermine or threaten another employee. Source - Bully Zero Foundation Australia

There are many forms of bullying and it isn’t always evident or obvious to Managers and sometimes other staff. Verbal, physical, emotional, social, psychological, racial and cyber bullying – in any form, it is your responsibility as a leader in the workplace to recognise, and manage it.

Let’ start with taking a good look at your workplace – do your people feel safe and have someone they can talk to if they feel uncomfortable, would they be supported if they felt they were being harassed or bullied? Putting up posters just isn’t enough. Leaders today have to walk the talk and be advocates for zero tolerance to bullying. So where do you start?

1. Policy Document Enlist a professional either internally or externally to assist you in writing a Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy that suits your business or organisation. Get it right from the start, get buy in from the Senior Management and enlist support.

2. Have a clear and uncomplicated Complaint Process – as part of the policy, ensure you have a process whereby staff can confidentially talk about how they are feeling and where the issue will be managed professionally. And remember, it doesn’t matter whether as a leader or manager you think the bullying is happening or not, it is a personal thing and if an employee takes offence to something it is their right to report it, despite the fact that it might be something you would tolerate or see as acceptable.

3. Education – educate your staff so they are aware of what the policy means for the company and for them as an employee. Bullying is a word that can be used for so many things, getting an understanding of what it truly represents is your key to stamping it out. Promote the document visually so that it is living and that there is an understanding of zero tolerance in your workplace.

4. Training - Ensure people are aware of what you do and don’t accept and constantly reinforce this in training and team meetings. Leaders in the workplace need to lead by example and at no time should we put anything out there that puts people in a position of feeling uncomfortable.

5. Awareness - be aware of the cues - You need to have an environment where you are in touch with your staff and are aware of any changes in work flow and behaviour and notice the cues. For example - increased absenteeism, arriving late to work, less productivity. Look at their statistics and work flow, is there something causing this to happen? Often bullying is silent, people don’t know until someone stands up says something.

By being on the front foot, organised and clear on your expectations of your employees and by backing this up with a policy that is easy to understand, with clear processes and supportive training and you are already a step ahead to ensuring your workplace is happy, supportive and void of bullying.

If you feel that its time for a health check of your readiness to manage any workplace Bullying please contact our team at People Assets

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