How to avoid unnecessary workplace claims and turnover in your organisation

  • Did you know that unintended bullying and harassment is [one of] the most common reasons employees leave, bring complaints, and disengage?

 

  • Or that workplace bullying and harassment is one of the largest contributors to stress, inability to sleep and mental health issues?

 

  •  And that based on statistics, even if you have never had a claim for bullying and harassment, the odds are that this WILL happen at some stage in your organisation?

 

  • When it does, your managers and/or business directors can be found legally liable if an employee makes a claim for bullying or harassment in the workplace.

 

  • Even when the claim against the organisation is vexatious, unwarranted, and untrue, the claim will need to be defended or settled and the costs can be substantial.

 

  • These costs are not just monetary and can manifest as reputational damage, negative publicity, internal disruption, fractured working relationships and enormous stress on all parties involved.

 

  • The problem arises when people aren’t even aware they are doing it and the organisation doesn’t know that it’s happening. It’s then too late.

 

  • No one wins with bullying and harassment, whether it is intended or not.

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Statistics and Research

According to Safe Work Australia [2009], the median cost for accepted bullying and/or harassment claims is approximately $27,000 but some claims can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. And, as noted above, not all costs are monetary.

 

Here are some other statistics to think about:

What constitutes workplace bullying?

 

Workplace bullying is when there is a persistent pattern of mistreatment or poor behaviour from one or more people to another that causes either physical or emotional harm.

 

This is typically through humiliation, verbal or physical means AND may not always be intentional.

 

The issue with bullying and harassment is that it is based on the perception of the person experiencing the behavior and may not be the intention of the person saying or doing something to them that causes the harm.

Common examples of bullying include:

  • teasing or practical jokes

  • pressuring someone to behave inappropriately

  • behaving aggressively

  • belittling someone alone or in front of others

  • excluding someone from work-related events

  • unreasonable work demands

  • cyberbullying using social media or electronic channels

  • spreading untrue rumors or gossip

Harassment differs from bullying because a single instance of poor behavior is enough for someone to make a complaint

 

Anti-discrimination law defines harassment as any form of behavior that:

  • someone does not want

  • offends, humiliates or intimidates someone

  • creates a hostile environment.

Common examples of harassment include:

  • material that is displayed in the workplace, circulated or left in someone's work area

  • material put on a computer, sent by email, or put on a website, blog or on social networking

  • verbal abuse or comments

  • offensive jokes

  • ignoring, isolating or segregating a person or group

initiation ceremonies that involve unwelcome behaviour

Image by Nadine Shaabana

A problem also arises when people may not realise that their behavior could be perceived as bullying and harassment. 

Why does bullying and harassment happen in workplaces?

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In our experience managing workplace disputes in organisations ranging from 10 staff to 60,000 staff, we can tell you that:

  • There isn't a stereotypical bullying victim

  • There isn’t a stereotypical ‘bully or harasser’

But there are some common themes in many bullying cases including a workplace where:

  • people are not able to define and express their boundaries

  • employers and managers are not ‘on the pulse’ of what is really happening in their organisation

  • employees do not know how to raise grievances and/or managers do not know what to do when matters raised

  • management or owners have no idea that people are feeling bullied or harassed

  • the culture is poor and people do not feel genuinely supported

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What can you do?

 

Ensuring that as a key organisational leader, you are aware of how to identify and mitigate poor workplace behaviors before they turn into a problem is the key to preventing workplace bullying and harassment.

 

Once you can identify the issues, you are in a better position to manage or even prevent the bullying or harassment from occurring. In doing so, you can turn what could be a poor situation into a positive for everyone involved.

 

Find out more about what practical steps you can take in your workplace immediately

About the authors:

Roxanne and Nicole

Roxanne Harris.jfif

Roxanne Morey is a leader in HR. Her first role was as a HR/IR Cadet working for a major manufacturing company and over 30 years later she was heading up HR and Culture for one of the largest organisations in New South Wales.  With a deep generalist HR skill set, her passion is helping leaders understand the ‘how to’ of managing workplace issues in a positive way, building a thriving and engaging culture and finding the joy in work.

Nicole Rose is a rare combination of in-house lawyer, compliance and risk specialist, training facilitator and training creator. She has worked for organisations all around the world specialising in employment law, employee relations and risk and compliance, including large insurance and mining companies, financial institutions, small independent companies, not for profits and start-ups. Nicole is also an artist and creative and her training has been used by hundreds of thousands of learners around the world. Her work has even been featured in Forbes.

And GUESS WHAT?

They’re now TOGETHER

 

“We’ve combined our experience.

We’ve combined our knowledge.

We’ve combined our skills.

We’ve combined our passions.”

Nicole and Roxanne have seen it all in their professions and now want to share their experiences and help organisations to avoid the common pitfalls that they have seen.

Find out what practical, immediate, affordable, and time efficient steps you can take right now for your organisation