Digital Work Life

How to avoid unnecessary workplace claims and disruption in your organisation

  • Did you know bullying and harassment, intentional or not, is a key reason employees leave, bring complaints, and disengage from an organisation? 

 

  • Or, that workplace bullying and harassment is a significant contributor to employee stress, sleep and mental health issues.  

 

  • And statistically, even if you have never had a claim of bullying and harassment to date, odds are this is likely to happen at some stage

 

  • When it does, your managers and/or business directors can be found legally liable if a claim for bullying or harassment is substantiated. 

 

  • Sadly, even when a bullying or harassment claim turns out to be vexatious, unwarranted, or untrue, the claim will still need to be defended and the costs can be substantial. 

 

  • The costs are not just monetary and can result in reputational damage, negative publicity, internal disruption, loss of productivity, and fractured working relationships, not to mention enormous stress on all parties to the  bullying or harassment claim. 

  • Sometimes the problem arises when people are not aware they are bullying or harassing, and/or or the organisation does not know it is happening. Ignorance is not a reasonable excuse

 

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

According to ‘Safe Work Australia’, the median cost for an accepted bullying and/or harassment claim is $27,000. Some claims however can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And of course, not all costs are monetary and can have a huge impact on your organisation.  

Statistics
and
Research

Here are some other statistics to consider from Safe Work Australia:

workplace bullying.png

What constitutes workplace bullying?

Fair Work defines workplace bullying as repeated unreasonable behaviour by an individual towards a worker which creates a risk to health and safety. It can be verbal or physical, or both. It can be obvious or subtle, meaning it is not always easy to see. And sometimes it may not be intentional, but the impact and harm caused is the same. 

  • 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

  • unjustified criticism or complaints about someone’s work 

  • intimidation 

  • assigning meaningless tasks, or impossible jobs 

  • deliberately changing work rosters to inconvenience a particular person 

  • cyberbullying using social media or electronic channels

  • spreading untrue rumours or gossip

Common examples
of bullying include:

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

package 1-02.png
package 1-01.png

Harassment differs from bullying because:

  • A single instance of poor behaviour is enough for a complaint.  

  • Harassment is defined as behaviour that is unwanted, offends, humiliates or intimidates someone, and creates a hostile environment 

  • And the complainant may not have been the recipient of the poor behaviour but an observer who was offended  

  • 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 behavior

Common examples
of harassment include:

Why does bullying and harassment happen in workplaces?

From our experience managing workplace disputes in diverse organisations across the globe ranging from 10 staff to 60,000, we can say with confidence: 

  • There isn't a stereotypical bullying target

  • There isn’t a stereotypical bully (or harasser) 

HOWEVER, THERE ARE COMMON THEMES Including: 

  • The culture is poor, and people do not feel supported 

  • Leaders are not aware there are people feeling bullied or harassed 

  • People leaders at all levels are not ‘on the pulse’ of what is really happening  

  • People do not know how to raise grievances or issues

  • People leaders do not know what to do when issues are raised 

  • People do not communicate their personal workplace boundaries  

Ensuring that as a key organisational leader, you are aware of how to identify and mitigate poor workplace behaviours before they turn into a more serious 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. 

what can 
you do?

To 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.