Preventing Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

workplace bullying and harassment

Does your business or organization take a proactive stance to prevent workplace bullying? As two major issues facing today’s workforce, bullying and harassment pose a serious threat to the happiness and wellness of your employees and can quickly land you in hot water if not handled correctly.

While conflict and upsets may be inevitable when you bring people together, bullying and harassment don’t have to be. By taking a stand to set clear boundaries, policies, and procedures in place, you can lead by example and prevent abuse within your workplace. At Pivot HR, we know just how important it is to create and maintain healthy workspaces. Below, we’ll cover some of the best ways to prevent bullying and harassment before they have a chance to manifest. Read on to learn more!

What Constitutes Workplace Bullying and/or Harassment?

As per WorkSafeBC, bullying and harassment in the workplace includes “verbal aggression, personal attacks and other intimidating or humiliating behaviours.” A worker is being bullied and harassed when “someone takes an action that they knew, or reasonably ought to have known, would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated.” There are many forms this can take, including insults, harmful hazing, calling someone derogatory names, vandalizing personal belongings and spreading malicious rumours, sexual harassment, and more.

To prevent such behaviours from taking root, you need to:

Have a Clear Code of Conduct

Make it crystal clear what is and isn’t tolerated when it comes to interpersonal relationships within your office. By having a dedicated code of conduct, you remove any ambiguity for current and future employees and set the tone for interactions going forward. Your policies should not only outline acceptable and unacceptable actions in detail, but should also clearly and succinctly highlight the consequences of behaving inappropriately. Conduct protocols should be included in all onboarding and training and should be routinely updated to ensure full compliance.

Create a Culture of Prevention

Culture is one of your biggest assets when it comes to avoiding issues with bullying and harassment. Healthy workspaces sustain positive dynamics that don’t allow resentment or anger to settle in by promoting solid communication and respect. By focusing on your culture and environment, you’ll have a strong foundation that makes it much harder for negative behaviours to take hold.

Know the Symptoms

Oftentimes, bullying and harassment can take time to notice since it’s typically less overt than we may expect. Good leaders know to stay in tune with what’s happening in their workspace and to keep an eye open for early signs of discontentment. If you notice that a specific employee or group is being excluded, that individuals have started to arrive late, seem flustered, or tend to hide themselves away, it’s worth having an open conversation and taking a closer look at what’s going on.

Act Quickly

Simply put, if you believe or know something is wrong, do not delay getting involved. There are appropriate methods to follow when issues arise, but the biggest component of a successful resolution is to take action as soon as possible. Never allow bad behaviours or attitudes to fester, and be prepared to refer to your company policies and guidelines if and when conflict arises. Doing so not only helps to resolve the issue at hand but also sets a clear precedent for your employees to know that such matters are taken seriously and resolved fairly.

Get to the Root

Bullying and harassment are rarely isolated incidences or behaviours. If you’ve noticed an issue within your team, chances are there may be a bigger problem lurking beneath the surface. Burnout, inadequate pacing, lack of resources and degrading company culture are common culprits that lead to bad behaviours. Look deeper and see what else may need to be addressed going forward.

Learn and Grow

As we mentioned early, conflict is inevitable in the workplace. Handling issues is never fun and can be frustrating, but each challenge presents us with the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and grow for the future. Partnering with an experienced HR firm in the event of bullying and harassment will not only help you resolve the issue at hand but develop a better plan to address any shortcomings and build a solid foundation for the years to come.

Create the Workplace Your Team Deserves

Contact Pivot HR to learn more about our HR support services including conflict management, bullying and harassment support, workplace investigations, and more today!

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