Anti-bullying protests a wake-up call to all
A 200 strong protest of staff at a large distribution centre has seen workers taking a stand in order to raise concerns about alleged bullying and harassment by managers.
As reported in the Age this morning, this is the second time staff have protested this week and despite the company’s statement that it does not tolerate workplace bullying, allegations from staff members cite a culture of bullying, with one former worker stating she was dismissed after complaining about sexual harassment.
This news comes alongside recent reports that bullying and poor working relationships have been major causes driving staff out of the public health service in WA.
Reports obtained by the Sunday Times show results of exit surveys from 485 respondents. “Many employees” indicated that bullying, intimidation and verbal abuse were a “major influence” in their decision to leave their jobs. Some comments noted that “the atmosphere at the workplace is filled with fear” and that when complaints were brought forward they were not properly addressed and that “the victim ends up leaving.”
These instances show how important it is for employers to have open ears when it comes to behavioural issues. Not only is it vital that all formal complaints are properly addressed but it is also important for employers to deal with matters that come to their attention in other ways such as via exit interviews, staff surveys, informal concerns or perhaps anecdotally.
In some cases, where no formal or specific complaint has been made, a workplace inquiry can help an organisation examine the culture within a team and identify any potentially risky behavioural issues.
A holistic approach is vital in preventing and tackling poor behaviour, therefore it is essential that organisations have clear, up to date policies in place and that these are effectively communicated to all staff. This means every worker should know what is and is not bullying and what to do if they experience or witness poor behaviour, including the organisation’s complaints process. Managers and supervisors should also be clear on their responsibilities and how to deal with issues they become aware of.
Providing bullying and harassment training for workers and managers is an important first step but it is also important that those with people management responsibilities are properly trained too. Employers should ensure that those new to management roles are trained in people skills such as performance management techniques and also that well trained HR teams are there to support and guide managers with their ‘people problems’.