Workplace Bullying - Hasmate
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Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is a subject that is a real employment issue that is becoming recognised and spoken about. It has been estimated that 400,000 New Zealanders are being bullied every working day.

Has it become more prevalent in the workplace or is it that it is something that is not to be accepted or tolerated in this day and age?

Does it happen in your business and if so, what are you doing about it?

Are the days of “shape up, harden up or get out” now numbered?   According to Allan Halse, the director of Culturesafe NZ, bullying is a criminal issue, not an employment matter – read more.

This is an interesting take as to where it sits as a health and sissue for a business.

In 2003 the Health and Safety in Employment Act was amended to include work related stress as defined harm and an H&S issue. The Act was amended to include stress as a H&S issue. This change came about due to a number of high profile cases of work overload. A common factor in all these cases was that those concerned had all approached their employers and asked for help. Their pleas for help were ignored and basically told to harden up and get on with it. As a result, all four employees took their lives.

Like workplace stress, workplace bullying is a real issue that should not be ignored by any employer. Who would want it on their conscience? Being aware that it was happening, and as a result, their employee taking their life (all because the situation was ignored with no action being undertaken).

With the shortage of skilled, experienced and competent staff in the NZ business environment, it would be foolhardy to not treat this subject as a potential employment issue, as it could well become a criminal issue as suggested by Allan Halse. With the increased expectations and responsibilities of business owners and directors as the PCBUs and/or officers of a business, to not manage workplace bullying could well become a very expensive mistake for a business.

If this is applicable to your business, how can you manage this in 2018?

  1. Acknowledge that bullying is a workplace health and safety issue;
  2. Discuss this with your senior management team;
  3. Seek out an expert in this field to learn the signs and get training in the subject;
  4. Identify if this is, or does, in fact happen in your business?
  5. Develop a company policy that this practice is unacceptable;
  6. Develop a documented process for employees to follow if they have a genuine concern and if it is happening to them;
  7. Review the company’s definition of “what constitutes serious misconduct” in your employment agreement and include workplace bullying;
  8. Include your commitment to this policy in your employee induction process;
  9. Train all your managers and supervisors in the policy and the company’s stand on this unacceptable practice;
  10. Inform all employees of the policy and the reporting process.

By following the recommended actions above, this will provide you with a pathway to tackling this issue, if it arises.