Workplace bullying

Workplace bullying

Many employees spend just as much time with their colleagues as they do with their loved ones. Creating a harmonious workspace is therefore extremely important.

Workplace bullying or harassment occurs when unreasonable, repeated behaviour is directed at a staff member; either by a person in a position of power such as a manager or employer, or even by other employees. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, workplace bullying may consist of the following behaviours:

  • Sexual harassment, including touching, explicit comments or ‘jokes’ that make individuals uncomfortable
  • ‘Initiation rituals’ where employees are made to do humiliating tasks in order to ‘join the club’
  • Repetitive and inappropriate remarks, about aspects such as sexuality, nationality, religion, intelligence, etc.
  • Unrealistic demands such as being assigned tasks without adequate time or resources to complete task
  • Psychological harassment

Workplace bullying, apart from being childish and cruel, disrupts the functioning of a business and can cause health issues for those involved. It can cost the business money, through:

  • Employees affected taking leave because they cannot face coming into work
  • Losing employees and having to re-train
  • Unproductive employees because they have lost their motivation
  • Dealing with a lawsuit

As an employer, it is your responsibility to establish a workplace culture that is inclusive and enjoyable for all employees to be a part of. This can be achieved by:

  • Including expectations of the way employees conduct themselves around the business in their employee contract.
  • Explicitly stating that the business is an inclusive one and bullying will not be tolerated in the business’ core values and mission statement.
  • Leading by example.
  • Having a process for dealing with bullying and adhering to it.
  • Ensuring there are appropriate and accessible channels for employees to use should they feel they are the victim of workplace bullying.

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