“Almost 50 per cent of Australian employees will experience some form of workplace bullying during their lives” – Beyond Blue
In most cases, bullying has alarming effects on both the individual and company as a whole.
As many as one in five people are said to experience bullying in the workplace at some stage in their career. Some of the extreme consequences of workplace bullying can include high staff turnover, low motivation, increased absenteeism and lost productivity.
Have a think for a moment whether any of these issues are present in your workplace….
Could they be stemming from an even greater issue? Such as the culture of your workplace?
We understand how busy a workplace can get–we employ over 11,000 casual workers (known as Sidekicks) and ensuring their safety and experience when working with our clients is our top priority. We need to make sure we aren’t sending our Sidekicks into an environment where bullying is part of culture.
So, we’ve done our research and have put together five instantly implementable ways to try and avoid creating a bullying culture and ensure your business is a place where your staff–temps, casuals, full-timers, LOVE to work.
1. Be aware and ‘in-sync’
One of the biggest mistakes we can make when it comes to preventing workplace bullying, is just simply not being aware that it’s occurring in the first place.
Sounds like an easy fix? Not so much.
We realise that awareness requires significant time on your part to be actively involved in your team’s activities–time that might be difficult to shell out sometimes. However it is integral to be in the loop regarding what’s going on in your workplace, and to check up on how your workers are doing regularly!
As a leader, you should be able to pick up on any chat about bullying complaints, mistreatment, or note any alarming and unexpected behaviour. Watch out for remarks that might seem lighthearted or comical, but may actually make someone feel uncomfortable or offended.
In fact, a report showed that almost 20% of workers said they felt uncomfortable due to sexual humour and 37% of workers reported being sworn or yelled at in the workplace.
So…remember, everyone processes things differently, everyone’s life experiences are different- something that may seem funny to you, may actually be hurtful to someone else.
By being an active observer in your workplace and picking up on these things, you can control and prevent your workers from being exposed to inappropriate behaviour.
2. Set the ‘golden’ standard
One of the first things we recommend doing is communicating your company values to your employees, including temps and casuals- Team-spirit, Trust, Equality, Growth…get them in sync with your positive mindset.
Making your values clear and setting standards for workplace behaviour sets the tone for an accountable workforce that’s actively working towards a common goal- company success.
In fact, being a leader means you have the power to lead by example! The standards you set will give your workers a guideline on how to act and treat one another in the workplace.
Remember, setting standards needs to be coupled with informing your employees about the repercussions of inappropriate workplace behaviour. Setting deal-breakers and briefing them on HR policies ensures that your workers know exactly what they’re getting into if they decide to engage in bullying.
But remember…Recognising those who stand out as ideal team-members will motivate the workforce to get on board, and spread positivity too!
3. Establish a ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’
Although a practical approach is crucial to the prevention of bullying in the workplace, sometimes it’s just not enough on its own.
In addition to setting the standard, we recommend establishing and implementing official policies and procedures that set out clear expectations of employee behaviour. These should also specify the repercussions of bullying or harassment.
Putting these policies in writing solidifies this idea of a ‘zero tolerance attitude’ in the employees mind, almost like a ‘caution’ sign.
Think about it this way…
Doing this will give you a chance to have a chat with your employees about the existence of workplace bullying, the ways in which it can occur, and the effects it has on victims. Not only will your workforce be more alert and receptive to the nature of conversations in the kitchen, but they will also be more empathetic to workers that might be victimised.
4. Choose the BEST leaders
Think about this for a moment…
Are the people who hold authority in your company committed to creating a ‘No-Bullying’ environment? Do they exhibit behaviour appropriate to being a good leader? Does their definition of what’s ‘appropriate’ match yours?
A common situation of workplace bullying is the victimisation of employees by someone who has significant power over them in the office. The reason why it’s important to ask yourself those questions is because you are then giving them the power to influence your employees, and as a result- the power to influence your workplace culture.
And after all, you know what they say… Bullying breeds more bullying.
But, this is one vicious cycle, that you have significant control over right now. We are confident in your judgement, and you should be too, in the leaders you choose. Invest in leaders who will set a high standard for their employees. Train them to have honest-talk if they hear hurtful comments, and to act decisively and objectively to when it comes to dealing with bullies.
By doing this, it won’t be just you working towards a safe work environment. You’ll have an equally committed team of leaders right by you every step of the way.
So….pick the right leaders, and only expose your workers to the best and most positive vibes.
5. Support, support, support!
Workplace bullying is a sensitive issue that must be dealt with utmost care and privacy. We recommend putting in place a well-defined reporting procedure- one that allows your workers to report any harassment and bullying privately. This will give them a sense of control, and empower them to stand up for themselves when they’ve been treated wrongly.
It’s so important to give your workers a way to talk about it and bring it to someone’s notice. You don’t want them to feel powerless and alone.
Another way to show your workforce your support, is by checking in with them regularly and asking them how they’re doing. A relationship with your workers built on trust and comfort will go a long way to creating a positive and safe work environment.
So, get started now on these super-easy ways to create the best and most positive environment for your workers. Say no to bullies, build an ‘accountable’ workforce, and empower your employees to stand up to inappropriate workplace behaviour!