Preston HR - Cairns HR Consultants

Managing the Risk of Workplace Bullying

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The implications of Workplace Bullying for organisations can be significant. Not only can it be harmful to the person experiencing the bullying, but also to those who witness it. The personal effects can vary from causing distress, anxiety, physical illness, negative impact on work performance and depression. It can also result in increased costs for a business, for example, a report published by Worksafe Australia in 2016 included the following key findings:-

  • The total cost of depression to Australian employers due to presenteeism and absenteeism is estimated to be approximately $6.3 billion per annum.
  • Workers with psychological distress took four times as many sick days per month and had a 154% higher performance loss at work than those not experiencing psychological distress. This equates to an average cost of $6,309 per annum in comparison with those not experiencing psychological distress.
  • Relative to workers with high engagement, workers with low engagement have approximately 12% more sick days per month and an average performance loss of eight per cent, costing employers $4796 per annum.

Ask yourself, can your organisation afford the costs of workplace bullying?

In addition to the costs associated, a person conducting a business has the primary duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that their workers are not exposed to health and safety risks – including bullying in the workplace.

What is bullying?

Workplace bullying is repeated, and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.

The term repeated can be characterised by persistent behaviour and/or may include a range of behaviours displayed over time. Unreasonable behaviour can be intentional or unintentional and can include behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

Reasonable management action is not considered to be bullying when it is carried out in a reasonable way. It can be considered reasonable management action when Supervisors make decisions about poor performance, take disciplinary action and direct and control the way work is undertaken.

So how do you manage the risks of workplace bullying in your organisation?

1. Identify the potential for workplace bullying

This can be achieved through regular consultation with workers. It may include undertaking employee opinion surveys, holding exit interviews with departing employees, monitoring incident reports and patterns of absenteeism, and seeking regular feedback from managers and supervisors.

2. Set the standard of workplace behaviour

This can be achieved by setting clear, enforceable standards of behaviour within a policy, or the organisation's code of conduct.

3. Develop Good Management Practices and Effective Communication

The term reasonable management action should be clearly defined for workers and Supervisors. This also includes ensuring practices that ensure unreasonable behaviour is acted upon in a timely manner.

4. Implement a transparent reporting process

Workers are more likely to report cases of bullying if they know who they can report cases of bullying to, that they will be taken seriously, and that confidentiality will be maintained.

5. Training

Training ensures that Supervisors and Managers are aware of their obligations and have the necessary skills in relation to preventing and responding to workplace bullying.

 

Do you have any concerns regarding workplace bullying in your organisation? Contact our experienced HR Consultants at Preston HR today on 4052 0709.

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