Bullying and Harassment – The epidemic that pre-dates and outlives Covid
Despite the Work from home revolution, workplace bullying and harassment are still very firmly with us. Employment tribunals referencing bullying allegations are at record levels.
It is more important than ever to have respectful cultures free of bullying and harassment.
Not only is eliminating bullying and harassment the right thing to do there is also a huge business imperative. Productivity is a challenge. Presenteeism is often high and recruiting tough. Staff retention is top of the agenda for organisations with skill shortages in the UK also at an all-time high.
Bullying affects millions of lives and can leave us feeling hopeless. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we challenge it, we can change it. And it starts by reaching out. 18-22nd November is anti-bullying week – get ahead and start the conversations.
How to eliminate bullying and harassment in your organisation:
- Respect: Make it clear it is expected in your organisation. Ensure your values are clear, well publicised and policies outline zero-tolerance to workplace bullying culture.
- Train your staff on these procedures and policies at time of onboarding and throughout with continuous publicity, feedback and discussion.
- Act: Ensure bullying and harassment claims are called out early. It is generally accepted that cleaning graffiti rapidly helps ensure your building does not become an easy target for more (sorry Banksy!). Calling it out early ensures you set a zero-tolerance culture where it will not be accepted or ignored.
- Everyone and anyone in your organisation should feel empowered to report any signs of bullying and harassment. High standards are achieved if they are exhibited from the top to the bottom of your organisation. Far from being immune or untouchable, directors and senior managers should both be called out and, be willing to call out inappropriate behaviours.
- Be aware, honest and realistic of other pressures. One frequent source of bullying is unreasonable pressures in the organisation. For instance, unattainable targets or clearly insufficient resources. It is no excuse but needs to be recognised. It’s no use telling your people bullying isn’t acceptable and then demanding they deliver 50% more than is realistically, humanly possible.
- Make speaking up business as usual. Support those who speak up. It is imperative that those who speak up about bullying and harassment have their concerns dealt with promptly, professionally, and sympathetically (whilst acknowledging that anyone accused of bullying or harassment has a right to a fair process). Ensure no one who raises a genuine concern, or supports them in so doing, is prejudiced in any way by having done so.
- Make sure you have clear and safe reporting. This should be clearly included in your policies, and everyone should be aware of them. It must include available routes to raise concerns or ideas to managers, HR or senior management. An anonymous route helps to remove barriers to speaking up.
- Measure and assess: Ensure there are adequate means to measure whether your people feel you are in the right place with your respect agenda. Encourage feedback by including questions around workplace bullying in your annual staff surveys, or run periodic pulse surveys to gauge the mood.
- Follow up and learn. If you do have instances of bullying and harassment reported in your organisation, it is imperative that you follow them up quickly and thoroughly and with integrity. People will not raise issues if they feel nothing will be done about them and they are at risk by raising it.
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