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    Anti-bullying week- how do you prevent bullying in the workplace?

    Bullying behaviour doesn’t just apply to the school playground unfortunately it creeps in to our workplaces too. It is such a sensitive issue, with employees wondering if it is just them.

    Usually the terms bullying and harassment are used together, however, they do have different meanings.

    There is no legal definition for bullying, however, ACAS define it as “Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient”.

    Harassment as defined in the Equality Act 2010 is “Unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.”

    Bullying can create an unhappy atmosphere and employers have a duty of care for the health, safety and welfare of their staff.

    Signs
    The signs may not always be obvious, and the way it manifests could be face to face, written communication or via images. Examples of bullying can be;
    • Constant criticism
    • Spreading malicious rumours
    • Exclusion
    • Victimisation
    • Unfair treatment
    • Deliberately undermining
    • Overbearing supervision
    • Making threats about job security

    Effects
    The effects of bullying and harassment are costly! They can be;
    • Low moral and motivation
    • Poor employee relations
    • Poor performance and productivity
    • Increase in absence
    • Possible Employment Tribunal claim
    • Increase in resignations- increasing recruitment costs!

    What can you do?
    If a complaint is raised regarding bullying or harassment, investigate the allegations in a prompt, confidential and sensitive manner. Outsourcing this process is an excellent way to manage and investigate the allegations objectively. Our experience and feedback tells us that using an external HR Consultancy, such as Peach Law & HR, can provide the distance the company may need to have and demonstrates to the employees that these types of complaints are treated seriously. Confidentiality must be paramount when carrying out the investigation.

    If possible, in the first instance, can the employee speak to the person directly about their bullying behaviour in a calm manner? Sometimes they may not know that what they are doing has an effect on the employee and an informal conversation may be enough to stop the behaviour from happening again.

    Disciplinary action may need to be taken depending on the outcome of the investigation. Follow your own company policies and procedures. If you are unsure if your policies and procedures are fit for purpose, get in touch!

    Prevention is better than cure
    Here are a few things to think about introducing if you haven’t already.
    • Promote a positive workplace culture whereby effective communication takes place and collaborative working is facilitated. Leaders should role model the behaviours expected of all employees.
    • Ensure that job descriptions are up to date and reflect the role being carried out so that it would minimise any risk of ambiguity.
    • Create a robust bullying and harassment policy clearly stating expectations of the role of each employee and the company’s commitment to tackling bullying and harassment.
    • All staff to have training on how to deal with bullying and harassment situations in addition to Diversity training. Ensure your staff understand the policies that are in place.

    In our experience we have seen businesses suffer due to not tackling unacceptable behaviour efficiently, this ends up being very costly. Get in touch today confidentially if you want to manage this proactively on 0161 478 3800 or hello@peachlaw.co.uk.

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