Workplace bullying hit the news this week with a televised account of a woman who allegedly experienced verbal abuse and aggression from her manager causing her significant distress and anxiety.

The story asserted that the employee had experienced a pattern of aggressive, unreasonable behaviour including yelling, having paperwork torn from her hands and foul, demeaning language. The victim described her experience as a “nightmare” and described her manager’s behaviour as “extreme”. After the case arrived at the Victorian County Court, an agreement was reached to settle out of court with a six figure sum being paid by the company. Although the amount to be paid was undisclosed, this case is not the first to involve a large company payout. The news story cited some recent cases where large payments had been awarded to victims, including a bullying case last year where the Complainant was awarded a total of $592,554.

With this in mind it is essential that behavioural matters are taken seriously by employers and that all those in the workplace recognise inappropriate behaviour. Effective bullying and harassment training is now more important than ever. Training should be engaging and clearly demonstrate poor behaviour, such as where an autocratic or harsh approach is demeaning to a worker, as in the above case. Animations featured in World Learning Hub’s online bullying training clearly show a range of inappropriate behaviours and high risk management styles.

Although training is an essential step, it is important that organisations also look at the big picture and take a holistic approach; this means ensuring policies are in place, are kept up to date and are communicated with workers. Part of the process is also dealing appropriately with issues or complaints that arise, this could mean conducting a workplace investigation or, where poor behaviour is suspected but no formal complaints have been received, a workplace inquiry.

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