It’s Here: Workplace Bullying is now Real and Serious
A recent article in Dateline Australia announced new standards in workplace bullying policy for which workplaces in Australia will be held accountable: “On April 24, 2013 WorkSafeBC announced that its Board of Directors has approved three new occupational health and safety workplace bullying and harassment policies.”
What Does That Mean?
Well, I hope it means that changes will also be made here in the US so that workplace bullying is acknowledged as the serious problem it is, and that organizations are responsible to dealing with the behavior and its consequences.
Workplace Bullying Policy: More Details
Though this definition is by no means perfect, and still up for debate, it is still a step in the right direction: “Under the new policies, bullying and harassment include any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated.”
According to WorkSafe BC, Employers must
Develop a policy statement with respect to workplace bullying and harassment not being acceptable or tolerated;
Take steps to prevent or minimize workplace bullying and harassment;
Develop and implement procedures for workers to report incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and harassment;
Develop and implement procedures for how the employer will address incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and harassment;
Inform workers of the policy statement in (a) and the steps taken in (b);
Train supervisors and workers on recognizing the potential for bullying and harassment, responding to bullying and harassment, and procedures for reporting and how the employer will deal with complaints of bullying and harassment;
Annually review the above steps;
Not engage in bullying and harassment of workers and supervisors, and
Apply and comply with the employer’s policies and procedures on bullying and harassment.
A Good Start
While these requirements mirror those of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination in the workplace guidelines, it’s a start in the right direction.
To continue moving forward, I recommend several guidelines. First, acknowledgement of the issue is essential. Second, set regulations and create structure, Third, really understand the issues and then apply the regulations in a fair manner.
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I’ve been a strategic consultant on workplace conflict to executives worldwide for more than 20 years. My work brings individualized solutions to your teams’ lost productivity, loss of key personnel, low morale, and the high costs resulting from bullying, abrasive behaviors and interpersonal workplace conflicts.
I’m Kathleen Bartle, Conflict Consultant.