The crippling cost of workplace bullying & harassment cannot be understated.
In organizations where bullying and harassment exist, two vital pillars are affected. The first, and most important, are the people. Second are the profits that support those people.
It should go without saying, even though it doesn’t, that the following non-exhaustive list of behaviour is considered inappropriate:
- Purposeful Exclusion
- Berating People
- Making crude remarks
- Threatening Language both Verbal and Physical
- Displaying Pornographic Material
- Violence of any kind
Bullying and harassment includes far more than what’s listed above and goes far beyond the workplace. Victims and/or targets of bullies and harassers often suffer from:
- Sleep Deprivation
- High Blood Pressure
As a result of this unwanted behavior bullied workers experience a sense of isolation and performance issues that affect their self-esteem, ability to concentrate and make decisions, all of which lead to a drastic drop in productivity. Rather than performing their job task, victims tend to fixate their time on avoiding their bully, ruminating about the situation and sometimes seeking support from other coworkers.
As an employer, these realities should be particularly alarming. Health and Safety is often associated with the prevention of physical harm and injury to workers, but the mental and emotional side is equally as important and affects workplace culture in it’s own negative way.
The bottom line? None of this is good news for anyone.
The good news? There are solutions.
- Implement Strict Policies
Every organization should have it’s own Workplace Bullying & Harassment Policy which should clearly outline the company’s ZERO TOLERNACE stance against ANY form of harassment. The policy should also include the resulting steps the company will take if a person is found to bully, harass or sexually harass another employee. It is common for organizations to terminate under these circumstances.
This policy should be easily accessible and acknowledged by each employee.
- Clear Procedures To Follow
What if I’m being harassed? What do I do?
What if I’m not the victim but a witness to inappropriate behavior?
Who do I speak to?
Will everyone find out?
These are questions that your company procedures should answer in a simple and clear format.
What procedures need to be followed if you are a victim or witness of harassment?
- Rollout Company Specific Training
Training is the key to ensuring your team is aware of what’s acceptable behavior, procedures to follow and the lengths the company is willing to go to protect its workers.
However, it’s not enough to just deploy generic pre-built courses. This approach is not only ineffective, but it also doesn’t meet the federal and provincial harassment training requirements set out in Bill 168 & Bill 132 in Ontario, for example.
Training Courses Should Include:
- Video Examples
Multimedia visuals are an important part of retention. Videos that depict real-life case studies are an effective way to allow the trainee to visualize themselves in scenarios they may find themselves in and determine how they would handle the issue.
- Company Policies & Procedures
Generic off-the-shelf courses can be effective, but no in this case. Your company policies and procedures need to be outlined clearly by uploading the documents into the training course and allowing the trainee to not only read it, but also download and keep it for their own records.
Given the effectiveness of being able to customize your training, a learning platform like Vocam’s BusinessTraining-TV(www.vocam.ca)will allow you to inject your company DNA and culture into training courses while at the same time leveraging a library of video chapters on various company wide topics.
If you want to go a set further, have them download a copy of the policy, sign and send back. A function BusinessTraining-TV also allows you to do digitally, which eliminates the need to pass hard copy documents back and forth, not to mention filing.
- Quizzes and Assessments
Quiz questions sprinkled throughout the courses ensure that the trainee is retaining the information, which is an important part of creating an effective audit trail for your company.
Create a custom question as a digital ‘Policy Acknowledgement’ asking the trainee to answer yes or no to a question that asks them to verify that they were provided with your company harassment policy and that they read and understood it fully. This will act as another layer of protection for the company in the unfortunate case the trainee is involved in behavior that is detrimental to their team and position in the company.
Bullying, violence and sexual harassment are more predominant in today’s workplace than most would like to acknowledge.
Companies can protect themselves and their workers by:
- Having strict Zero Tolerance policies
- Clear procedures to follow if a person is a victim or witness of harassment
- Company specific harassment training
As a company, what’s the best and most effective way to beat your bullies?