Workplace Bullying and Harassment: A Toolbox for Managers and Supervisors
To avoid the costs associated with unhappy staff and to promote a productive work environment, it is important for managers to understand the problem of workplace bullying and have the correct procedures in place to deal with it.
This popular book provides information, advice, step-by-step processes and practical tips for managers and supervisors dealing with workplace bullying and harassment problems.
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Resolve issues early and prevent them from escalating
Workplace bullying and harassment seem to be the new “buzzwords” in the HR arena. People have begun to open up about something that has been hidden away for years and years. No longer is it “just the way things are around here”.
The latest research indicates one in five New Zealand workers experience bullying and that it is one of the most costly and destructive potential hazards of any workplace. It causes stress, high staff turnover, and destabilised work teams and, worst of all, it can produce a toxic workplace culture that continues even when people leave.
The answer is not to bury one’s head in the sand, but to wake up, understand it and what creates it, and find out what can be done to prevent it.We need to become, “Bully/harassment wise and prevention fit”.
I have worked with organisations throughout New Zealand, from government to industry, hospitals, small, medium and large organisations, since 2000. I have been busy learning about this phenomenon – what creates it, what holds it in place, and what prevents it.
Some things I have noticed during that time are:
- Workplaces that don’t have any real capacity to understand or deal with bullying and harassment are vulnerable to having high levels of staff turnover, conflict, sickness, accidents, mistakes, disruption and a variety of stress-related issues. Apart from the negative effect on people, this issue is costly to deal with. In Australia, workplace bullying has been estimated to cost the economy $12-36 billion a year.
- Developing a single “complaints based” system to deal with workplace bullying is ineffective and produces a culture of complaining, costly investigations, disruption and litigiousness. The response that complainants should “be put it in writing or we can’t deal with it” is wrong. There are more options for people than complaining. There are more options for employers than formal investigations and disciplinary action.
- Creating a preventative culture is about focusing on development in a number of areas: training and education, informal and formal processes to respond to allegations, management and team development, and support system development using contact persons, EAP and health and safety advisors. Creating a culture where bullying and harassment are not colluded with or accepted as normal is a start. This takes more than writing a policy.
- It is better to prevent something destructive than having to cure it once it has taken root.
- The current systems in place through WorkSafe NZ and the Employment Relations Authority are not the sole answer for organisations dealing with bullying and harassment. Organisations need to develop their own processes and their own capacity to resolve issues at an early stage and prevent the development of the toxic culture.
Workplace Bullying and Harassment: A Toolbox for Managers and Supervisors was written to provide a quick, easy-to-read guide for managers and supervisors, and to give them some tools they could use. It is written with lots of bullet points, tables and practical things to do, as well as information to build a deeper understanding of some of the dynamics of bullying and harassment. It covers such things as definition, effects on people and organisations, informal and formal processes, the dynamics of perpetrators, the organisational shadow, coaching, and a lot more.
It’s a useful resource at a time when we can easily make mistakes and have situations go from bad to worse very quickly. Many managers have said they wish they had known about this or that aspect so they could have chosen a different strategy to deal with a situation. This book serves as a guide that is on your shelf when you need it.
Read an extract: Informal complaints and interventions
Read a short extract from chapter 16: Workplace Bullying and Harassment: A Toolbox for Managers and Supervisors on the informal complaints process.
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Workplace Bullying and Harassment: A Toolbox for Managers and Supervisors is a practical guide providing information, advice, step-by-step processes and practical tips for dealing with workplace bullying and harassment problems.
Topics covered include:
- defining workplace bullying and harassment
- legal responsibilities
- dynamics of workplace bullying
- effects on employees and organisations
- responding to the problem
- establishing company policy
- control measures and interventions
- creating a bully-intolerant culture.