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Friday, 16 September 2011

What You Should Know about Workplace Bullying

Bully-Free-Zone-Sign-K-7063It has been estimated that workplace bullying affects around 3.5% of workers, with the Beyond Bullying Association estimating that between two-and-half and five million will experience workplace harassment at some time during their career. US report to the Massachusetts Senate by State Senator Katherine Clark said that close to one-third of all workers have suffered from some type of workplace bullying. Additionally, workplace bullying is four times more likely to happen than sexual harassment. Left unaddressed, the financial costs of workplace bullying to an employer are both indirect and direct. Workcover ACT places the financial cost of bullying to Australian businesses at $6-$13 billion per year. This includes indirect costs such as absenteeism, labour turnover, lost productivity and legal costs. In the workplace bullying case of Naidu v Group 4 Securitas Pty Ltd [2005] NSWSC 618, record damages of $1.9 million and $150,000 exemplary damages were awarded against the employer. But ultimately, this isn't just about money. It's about individuals and how their lives are so simply ruined by thoughtless and damaging attacks by the people they work with. Bullying is corrosive to your organizational culture as it erodes peoples’ self-esteem, confidence and personality. A policy explicitly prohibiting bullying is simply insufficient due to the nature of bullying and the vagueness associated with “what it is” and “what it isn’t”. The most proactive and positive way to provide your business with its own certainty is by developing a bullying policy and through training. (Workplace Bullying facts courtesy of Clayton Utz Alerts and Insights) Bullying can involve patrons, clients, customers, contractors or staff. It’s a fact of life, bullying is not limited to the school yard and as an employer you cannot ignore bullying behavior. It is debilitating to the victim and can lead to serious health and psychological issues – even suicide. Bullying can be direct and obvious or indirect, even subtle or masked with humour. Bullying or harassment, although not a new phenomena is gaining momentum in civil litigation at a rapid rate, with no indications of slowing in the near future. There is a solution and you can arm your staff with the skills to identify and manage situations involving bullying and ultimately minimize the risk to this type of litigation. Learn more about Barringtons Prevention of Workplace Bullying Training here. Blayne Webb, Director, Barringtons  
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