Employers should provide a safe workplace for employees and that includes addressing workplace bullying

The workplace serves as a second home to employees and should be a welcome place where people can express their creativity, do productive work and earn an honest living.  However, for some employees, it can be a place where they dread to work in but must still do so in order to support themselves or their families financially.  The reason behind may be because of a work place bully.

Workplace bullying has become prevalent in many organizations.  Employees who were bullied at work may have experienced verbal abuse, exclusion, being belittled in front of other employees or clients and other negative situations.  Regardless of the form of bullying, the employers are responsible in ensuring that they have the necessary policies and programs to help deal with workplace bullying.

Some businesses or organizations may not have their own anti-workplace bullying rules and may be relying on local or government ruling to cover such cases.   In Canada, most of the states have their own bullying legislation.  This helps to support bullied employees and protect other workers from experiencing the negative behaviors of work place bullies.  Still, it is important for business leaders and owners to have their own policies in place.

Ensuring that anti-bullying programs or policies are are enforced at work will benefit organizations in the long run, given that a positive working environment often yields highly productive employees.  Data from the Canada Safety Council shows that bully victims at the workplace lose 10 percent to 52 percent of work time from avoiding the bully, thinking of how to defend themselves from the bully, talking with co-workers to gain support and simply thinking about the workplace bullying situation.  Employers not addressing the issue may also find themselves subject of a legal action because of the work place bully.

The challenge to deal with bullies at work not only rests on the business leaders or human resources professionals.  Each employee also bears the responsibility of ensuring workplace bullying does not happen in the organization.


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How is Australia’s anti-bullying program holding up?

Aside from a new year, the first day of January 2014 was the day that Australia’s anti-bullying regime was introduced at the Fair Work Commission (FWC).  The program provided employees, who became victims of workplace bullying, to report a claim against their employer’s abusive behavior.  This was the first time that Australia passed a legislation to cover bullying at work.

Prior to the implementation of the anti-workplace bullying regime, the FWC was expecting to receive around 3,500 bullying claims every year.  However, reports issued by the FWC indicated that only 874 cases of employees being bullied at work was received by the Commission since its inception until March 2015.

The number is very low.  What’s alarming is that 72 percent of these cases were finalized with an FWC decision and all but 1 bullying application was dismissed.  That means that only 1 among the 874 claims filed to the FWC was granted or deemed successful.

The low numbers of workplace bullying claims filed with the FWC is attributed to the lack of a compensation penalty.  With the current anti-bullying program, the FWC may only impose orders to deal with workplace bullying and prevent it from happening to the claimant again.  This is only applicable to bullying applications that are considered successful.  In such cases, it also allows the FWC to order the company to introduce or enhance workplace policies on bullying.

Another reason to the low numbers may be the hesitation of bullied employees to speak up about the abuse they experienced at work.

To read more about Australia’s anti-bullying program, click here.

What are the best practices in dealing with work place bullies?

Workplace bullying is becoming prevalent in many organizations.  The abusive behavior is displayed not only by bully bosses, but employees can also experience it from co-workers.

A study conducted by Office Team indicated that 35 percent of the 600 employees and HR professionals they surveyed had a bully in the workplace.  Those that experienced being bullied at work would sometimes get confused on how to handle the situation.

Some victims would opt to confront the workplace bully.  However there are a few who chose to remain silent and learn to cope with the situation.  Unfortunately, being exposed to a negative working environment raises the stress levels of bullied employees.  The abusive working conditions can also push an employee to leave the organization.  The Office Team survey showed that 13 percent chose to quit their jobs because of workplace bullying.

So, how can an employee deal with workplace bullying?  Having an open discussion with the bully is one option.  Sometimes, the bullies are not aware that their negative behaviors made a huge impact on other people.  A key item also is for business owners to foster a positive culture at work and have zero tolerance for workplace bullying and harassment.

To learn more, click here to read the full article.