Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace

Solutions for Effectively Managing the Damaging Impact of Workplace Harassment

Stress is a prevalent and costly issue in many work environments. Workplace stress can negatively impact a worker’s physical and mental health, which in turn interferes with their ability to maintain productivity, as well as customer service motivation. Stress can also lead to increased absenteeism, illness, costly turnover, stress leave, and can contribute to increased potential for safety-related injuries.

There are a great number of factors that contribute to workplace stress, including toxic work environments, challenging workplace relationships (client and co-worker), bullying, and harassment.

Harassment and Bullying at Work

It is safe to suggest that any organization, big or small, has the potential for a myriad of behaviours that can negatively impact individual employees and in some cases, entire work teams:

  1. Rumours and gossip
  2. Undermining and/or isolating coworkers
  3. Negativity
  4. Bullying
  5. Harassment (Human rights and personal)
  6. Verbal abuse and threats (clients/customers)

Most employees and supervisors avoid addressing problem behaviours for the following reasons:

  1. Fear of conflict
  2. Second guessing themselves for fear of appearing overly sensitive or overreacting
  3. Do not want to embarrass themselves or their co-worker
  4. Worry that they have to work with this person the next day
  5. Feel that it might make the situation worse
  6. Worry that a supervisor or manager might not support them

Solutions for a Toxic Work Environment

In order to mitigate potentially costly and damaging effects of workplace harassment and bullying, we recommend that all organizations take the following preventative steps.

  • Implement a Code of Conduct or Respectful Workplace Policy with clear expectations and consequences for employee conduct.
  • Develop a straightforward process for reporting personal harassment and explain this process to all staff.
    Make it unquestionably clear that behavioural expectations are not optional. Consequences are part of the process.
  • Managers, supervisors and those responsible for enforcing the policy must be given the skills, training, and policies required so that they can deal with issues immediately as they arise.
  • Management, HR, and the Union must agree that those who refuse to play by the rules and fail to meet behavioural expectations (typically a small % of the team) may ultimately require discipline and possibly dismissal.
  • Provide effective training that motivates employees to speak up and proactively/professionally deal with unwanted behaviours: Workplace Bullying and Harassment Prevention Training. The management of co-worker behaviours may differ from the management of client behaviours.

It is important to remember, the majority of employees know how to behave like reasonable adults in the workplace and understand what a respectful workplace looks like. What they often lack is the assertiveness and motivation to deal with the very few staff or supervisors that either refuse to play by the rules or simply do not ‘get it’. Training should reflect this fact and should be made mandatory.

Benefits of Proactively Dealing with Workplace Harassment

Having a work team that deals proactively with potential conflicts and unwanted behaviours in a professional manner leads to a reduction in absenteeism, turnover and personal stress. Other benefits include increased morale, team work, enhanced safety, customer service motivation, as well as reduced potential for wrongful dismissals, human rights complaints, respectful workplace complaints and co-worker violence. A strong case for due diligence and regulatory compliance is about doing the right and smart thing, rather than playing a red tape game with Regulatory Agencies.

ARETE is an expert in the delivery of customized in-person workshops, live webinars, and eLearning programs. Select training that immediately connects with learners to encourage straightforward and practical communication choices in response to challenging behaviours that occur in most workplaces. The outcome will be a much more professional, productive, and respectful work environment.

Provide your team with an opportunity for a RESET. Rather than looking back and rehashing previous conflicts, offer a clean slate where harassing behaviours should be recognized and addressed right away.

ENROL TODAY: https://etraining.arete.ca/courses/onside-workplace

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