Most incidents of bullying are not put on the record. Employees may fear the consequence of reporting a supervisor or manager. Colleagues may be reluctant to come forward as witnesses as they fear the consequences for themselves.
In a recent workplace investigation into a serious incident 15 employees were interviewed; 5 reported being subjected to bullying and abusive behaviour; 5 reported witnessing abusive behaviour in the past 12 months. The investigation uncovered a culture which was characterised by low productivity, lack of co-operation, lack of respect for individuals and frequent abusive behaviour.
The anxiety and stress caused by bullying and abusive behaviour may have significant consequences for your business:
- Low morale
- Damaged working relationships
- Poor productivity
- High absenteeism due to ’work related stress’
- High staff turnover
- Risk of Employment Tribunal claims
Comply with Health & Safety legislation
Employers have legal obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. Managers and senior staff have a responsibility to protect employees and promote a healthy working environment where an individual’s contribution is valued and their dignity is respected.
Employees have a duty to their colleagues not to engage in conduct or behaviour which could be considered offensive by other employees and to co-operate with the policies and procedures to prevent bullying.
What should employers do?
- Publish a ‘Dignity at Work’ Policy to emphasise the commitment to promoting respect for one and other and taking responsibility for your behaviour.
- Monitor complaints – ensure that employees are aware of how to make a complaint
- Investigate incidents – take complaints seriously, carry out an objective investigation and ensure a balanced response to the complaint.