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08 March 2020 Posted by 


Workplace bullying starts at the top
WHEN 300 of every 1000 Australian workers have been significantly bullied, Australia we have a problem.
And that problem starts right at the top of business organisations according to a recent survey.
The new survey is by workplace safety auditing and training organisation SAI Global and the results will ring alarm bells.
It revealed bullying and harassment was occurring in 1 in 3 organisations or 30%.
The findings are released when 91% of all mental health claims involve work-related mental stress.
SAI Global sought to uncover whether they see bullying and harassment in workplaces of surveyed staff.
The results showed 32% had come from managers, 29% from peers, 6% from external service providers and 5% from contractors.
Workplace Safety spokesperson at SAI Global Rod Beath said bullying and harassment encompassed much more than behavior that was outwardly aggressive, sexually explicit or humiliating towards others. “The behaviour can manifest in physical, verbal, social or psychological forms and this is why it is so difficult to identify.”
“It can even include comments or behaviors that are hurtful or make a person feel undervalued. Very shrewd managers or co-workers can deliberately intimidate employees to make them feel less important or undervalued, or make their jobs extremely difficult by, for instance, giving them impossible tasks or workloads.
“While awareness around these issues is growing – especially with recent studies that have identified poor mental health as a major concern in Australian workplace, there is still a need for better education and awareness among organisations,” he said.
Mr Beath encouraged employers to ensure their workplaces met health and safety legislation and standards and provided ongoing education for their employees.
“When an organisation’s workplace is certified to the ISO 45001 international standard for occupational health and safety, for instance, they are committed to eliminating risks of injury and illness, including mental health risks, as well as other important safety requirements.
“The standard requires organisations to consider any adverse impacts to their employees’ physical and mental health – and bullying and harassment is a part of this.”
SAI Global reveals its seven tips for how employers can eliminate bullying and harassment from their workplaces:
1.       Train managers to identify and call out bullying behaviours early. Some people might not even be aware that their behavior is affecting the broader workplace culture. In these circumstances, it is useful to have a conversation with employees about their behavior and its impact on colleagues. While this might seem like a sensitive and difficult conversation, it will promote awareness and teach individuals to recognise bullying tendencies and act on them early.
2.       Follow your company’s policy and processes when standards of expected behaviors are not met. Every company should develop and implement a clear and succinct workplace bullying policy to help address any bullying that occurs. This policy should clearly define the standards of behavior that are expected, and your responsibilities as an employer about how bullying will be dealt with. Whether this is a code of conduct or workplace bullying policy, it is important that these standards are continually reviewed and updated.  
3.       Have regular consultations with your employees. Every employer should try to be trustworthy and approachable, while providing respectful performance feedback to their employees. By regularly consulting with employees, it will also help them to better identify and assess if bullying is occurring in their workplace. Holding open dialogues with employees can also draw attention to potential factors that are likely to increase the risk of workplace bullying.
4.       Design systems that allow employees to carry out their work safely. By clearly defining jobs and incorporating workplace bullying into risk management approaches, it will help ensure that your workers are carrying out their work safely. These systems should also ensure that management, particularly lower levels of management, are adequately trained and supported to address workplace bullying. For instance, providing them with resources, information and training will help them to feel empowered to address the issues at hand.
5.       Manage workplace stressors. Role conflict and uncertainty may cause bullying behaviors due to the stress it places on employees. Ensure employees understand their roles and have the skills to do their job to minimise work circumstances that could lead to bullying. This will also help to minimise the risk of employees’ perceiving different opinions or management actions as bullying.
6.       Promote productive, respectful working relationships through good management practices. As your leadership sets the tone for how employees are expected to treat each other, it is important to identify and model the behaviours that you need in your team. By treating everyone with dignity and respect, it will help to create a cohesive workplace culture where bullying is not tolerated.
7.       Prioritise the psychological health of your employees. It is important to promote a positive and psychologically healthy workplace, beyond merely the absence of bullying. Encouraging staff to work on tasks together, matching employee skills and strengths with tasks and providing employees with sufficient information to perform tasks competently are just a few ways to help them balance mental workplace demands. Offering your employees flexible working arrangements also enables them to take care of their psychological health in the workplace.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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Central Coast Business Access (CCBA) covers the business and community issues of the NSW Central Coast region. CCBA is a prime media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities.