Early Signs of Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

workplace bullying and harassment investigations vancouver

Is your workplace safe and inclusive for everyone? While bullying and harassment aren’t exactly pleasant topics to ponder, the reality is they are significant sources of strain and danger within the workforce. The unfortunate reality of differing personalities and varied backgrounds among employees is that conflict is inevitable, but bullying and harassment should never be tolerated in any form. Employers and business owners must be aware of the early signs of negative behaviour and abuse. At Pivot HR, we know that addressing aggression or other harassing behaviours can be tricky and that navigating negative occurrences properly is essential to protect workplace culture and ensure that you abide by all regulations.

With decades of experience behind our team and countless workplace investigations under our belt, Pivot is here to help you get the answers you need to create a resolution that allows everyone to flourish and feel safe. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the early indications that harassment may be taking place in your workplace and how you can best support your team when it matters most. Read on to learn more!

The “Silent” Killer

One of the most difficult aspects when it comes to eliminating workplace bullying and harassment is that it is often far less overt and obvious than we may like to think. While physical assault and screaming matches are easy to spot, the reality is they’re often the final result of a conflict that has been simmering for quite some time. To avoid a build-up (and subsequent explosion) of tension, employers need to be diligent and keep a close eye on their employees, as well as maintain a culture of transparent communication, so team members know they will be supported and protected against harmful behaviours. Core signs of bullying and harassment include:

Sudden Absences

Have you noticed some of your employees suddenly taking more vacation time, having more appointments, or calling in sick more often than usual? While unexpected absences aren’t always a sign that someone is being bullied, they often indicate that something may be out of place in the workplace. Whether employees are experiencing more stress than usual, or are having difficulty managing a growing conflict with a team member(s), increased absences can be indicative that someone is struggling. Taking a moment to have an open, non-threatening conversation can shed valuable insight into what’s going on and allow you to step in quickly to resolve conflict.

Noticeable Dips in Productivity

Employee productivity tends to fluctuate throughout the year. It’s not uncommon to see sporadic drops following a tough project, towards the end of the year, or when an employee is facing specific personal challenges that they are working through outside of the office. In such cases, these fluctuations aren’t overly concerning, but if you notice a newer employee, or even more alarmingly, one of your more consistent team members suddenly slowing down or struggling to complete their usual tasks, further exploration is warranted. It could be attributed to burnout, or the employee(s) in question may be feeling uncomfortable due to tension amongst peers or with their manager.

Your Team Seems Withdrawn or on Edge

Managing team dynamics has been a particular challenge over the past few years as employees have had to rapidly adapt to a constantly changing professional landscape. Going back and forth between WFH and returning to the office has left many teams feeling a little strained, so, understandably, employees may be a little quieter and occasionally even a little more quick-tempered. But if you notice oddities beyond the standard atmosphere, you may want to take a closer look to see what’s really going on.

Increased Complaints and Discontent

We’ve all heard the phrase “misery loves company”, and unfortunately, this often rings true when bullying and harassment are present in the workplace. If you’ve seen an increase in complaints (either documented or verbally), and/or team members seem to be increasingly unhappy without any obvious cause; there’s likely more going on under the surface. Conducting a workplace investigation can help uncover any points of contention and give you the chance to address bad behaviours and interpersonal conflict before it has a chance to fester.

Mitigate Conflict with Pivot HR

If you’ve seen signs of discontent, harassment or bullying in the workplace, the time to act is NOW. Contact Pivot HR today to learn more about our HR support services, including conflict management, bullying and harassment support, workplace investigations, and more!

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