When a person or group of people repeatedly act unreasonably towards an individual or group of workers and that behaviour creates a risk to health a safety (FairWork Australia).
Teasing someone at work is really mean. I think they call that workplace bullying.
As much as we’d love to believe that the workplace is completely a$$ho#@ free and there are no longer bullies in any workplace– unfortunately, this is not the case. Bullying is prevalent in the workplace now more than ever. We are constantly investigating allegations of bullying for our clients, which is why we decided to compile a list of our top tips for dealing with workplace bullying allegations in your workplace.
- Ensure your workplace has a great anti-bullying policy. This is something that all employers must have. Each employee should read, understand and sign this at the beginning of their employment so that they are aware of the type of behavior that will not be tolerated in the workplace.
- Encourage open communication channels. Ensure that all employees feel that they have a safe space to voice any concerns that they may have. This will ensure that any issues are identified early to avoid the situation spiraling out of control.
- Process, process, process! Make sure you have step-by-step processes in place to deal with situations of bullying. This will mean that each and every allegation of bullying is treated alike with the same processes followed to ensure fairness to each individual case.
- Early intervention is key. It is really important that if you recognise any signs of workplace conflict, you deal with it before it escalates to a full case of bullying or harassment.
- Take each and every allegation of bullying seriously. You may think that the allegation doesn’t sound too significant or plausible; nonetheless, you must take them ALL seriously. If you don’t and it turns out to be true, you as the employer could be in serious trouble too!
- Conduct a full investigation using external investigators. Collect as much information as possible about the incident. This information may come from the relevant parties or perhaps witnesses. But it is crucial to know as much about the situation before deciding on the outcome.
- Innocent until proven guilty. Make sure that the alleged offending party is given a chance to respond to the allegations. They call this procedural fairness. There are always multiple sides to a story so make sure both parties are given the opportunity to tell theirs.
If you feel like you have any potential issues of bullying in your workplace, feel free to reach out to one of our HR Gurus to give you a hand implementing some of these techniques.
Written by resident HR Guru Madeleine Hall.