New Zealanders united in their tens of thousands when two television judges openly bullied a contestant. It was a dreadful experience for TV viewers to witness.
It made me feel sick to the core.
Yet most of us are much slower to speak up about workplace bullying. And we shouldn’t be. We should encourage our employers and fellow employees to discourage such behaviour in the workplace.
BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES: PREVENTING AND RESPONDING TO WORKPLACE BULLYING
In February 2014, Worksafe New Zealand (WorkSafe) released the first comprehensive government guidance on workplace bullying called, “Best Practice Guidelines: Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying”.
These WorkSafe guidelines are really useful and I recommend that every employer and employee download a copy for their own reference.
WHAT IS BULLYING?
WorkSafe defines bullying as “repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety”.
WHY IS BULLYING THE EMPLOYER’S BUSINESS?
Bullying is unacceptable on moral grounds and the employer should take immediate steps to deal with bullying in the workplace appropriately. If left unchecked and a bullied employee suffers a medically recognized condition because of stress, an employer may be liable to prosecution under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, or liability under the Employment Relations Act 2000, Harassment Act 1997, or the Human Rights Act 1993.
WHAT DOES WORKPLACE BULLYING LOOK LIKE?
Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or an abuse of power that undermine, humiliates or injures the recipient. Its effects are accumulative and difficult to control. The employee will suffer silently for a long time before they realise they are being bullied.
EXAMPLES OF BULLYING
- Copying emails about someone to others who don’t need to know.
- Excluding an employee
- Insulting someone
- Making threats about job security
- Overbearing supervision
- Overloading someone with work
- Physical intimidation
- Picking on someone
- Setting up a n employee to fail
- Spreading malicious rumours
- Using humiliating language
BULLYING IMPACTS ON EMPLOYER PRODUCTIVITY!
- Poor performance
- Increased absence
- Low morale
- Loss of company reputation
- Resignations and difficulty in recruiting
- Poor customer service and/or product quality
WHAT BULLYING IS NOT
Bullying is not:
- Firm management
- Inconsiderate conduct by the employer that makes the employee unhappy or resentful
- Impoliteness from the employer
- Dissatisfaction by the Employer of the employee’s performance
WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS DO?
WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYEES DO?
- Keep a diary of all incidents of bullying behaviour
- If there is a pattern tell your employer
- Follow any discussion with a formal email
- Note content of discussions and proposed actions
- Employees need to look out for each other
- Support any employee being bullied
- Encourage them to raise the issue with the employer
- Stamping out bullying helps everyone
WHAT IF I DON’T TRUST MY EMPLOYER
- Seek advice from a senior manager, your union, a lawyer or advocate, or someone you trust
- Contact MBIE on 0800 20 90 20
- Contact your local Community Law Office