Spotting the Signs: Workplace Bullying & Harassment Training

anti bullying and harassment training canada

Offices bring together people from all walks of life who wouldn’t necessarily interact with each other outside of the workplace. Statistically speaking, conflict is bound to arise despite the best intentions of the hiring manager.

Company culture is a delicate balancing act that one rotten employee can contaminate. How can employers recognize and prevent the poisonous spread of bullying and harassment in the workplace?

Defining Bullying

Workplace bullying and harassment can take many forms. Here are a few examples:

  • Emotional, mental and physical manipulation
  • Intimidation tactics
  • The spread of malicious and unfounded gossip
  • Vandalizing personal belongings
  • Targeted derogatory language.

Bullying is a form of aggression that is not always obvious. Passive aggression is common and insidious behaviour that slowly festers into malicious behaviour. WorkSafe BC defines bullying as “any inappropriate conduct or verbal comment” made by a person that ought to have “reasonably known would cause humiliation and intimidation” for the intended victim.


It starts small. Bullies target their victims and begin with micro-aggressions: derogative slights that are verbal, behavioural or environmental, typically targeted towards stigmatized and marginalized groups.

Microaggressions are the start of exclusionary behaviour, where the bully tests the waters of what they can and cannot get away with. Leadership must be mindful of these behaviours, as they can quickly escalate from micro to macro aggression.

Identifying Bullying

There is a fine line between strong leadership and bullying. When a manager is delegating tasks, providing constructive feedback, or reassigning work to an employee in a timely matter, this is not bullying. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offers a comprehensive, helpful guide for employers to understand the difference between being bullied and being managed.

However, this is not to say that a manager cannot also be a bully. Bullying and intimidation from leadership are why CCOHS and Worksafe BC require all businesses to have policies and training in place to mitigate bullying and harassment. Having policies in place is vital, providing employees with guidelines on reporting harassment.

Recognize the Symptoms

Employers are responsible for the well-being of their employees in the workplace. It can take time for the signs of bullying to become apparent. Leadership should keep their eyes peeled for employees isolating from the team, increased absenteeism and lateness, and noticeable shifts in behaviour.

When leaders notice these workplace shifts, action needs to be taken immediately. Most employees will be too afraid to broach these topics with management for fear of retaliation. Standing up for oneself is not as simple as we might think, especially not when their career is on the line or when their bully is a superior in the company.

Bullying & harassment training is mandatory in British Colombia. Only some businesses have a human resources department where employees can confidentially disclose their concerns. Any reports of bullying and harassment are to be taken seriously and immediately investigated.

Head over to part two to learn more about the ins and outs of Pivot HR’s Bullying and Harassment Training for management.

Outsourcing to Pivot HR

There comes a point during a workplace investigation about bullying and harassment where the issue spirals out of control, and employers have to bring in a third party to investigate the situation at hand.

Third-party investigators like Pivot HR are invaluable, as we are unbiased HR professionals. We use our expertise to question witnesses, assess their credibility, weigh the evidence and provide a thorough report with our findings.

At Pivot HR, conducting successful workplace investigations and conflict resolution is our bread and butter. Located in Vancouver and Toronto, we proudly offer in-person training to businesses; choose between a half-day, full-day, or luncheon training session.

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If you require resolution and mediation services, contact Pivot HR.

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