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    In light of recent news , Peach have taken a look at bullying and harassment in the workplace and how businesses can prevent this occurring in their Company. Here is our quick guide!

    1. Understanding- Do you know what bullying and harassment is?
    Acas gives the following definition: ’Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient’. It can be a one-off incident or reoccurring acts. Bullying and harassment doesn’t just occur in school playgrounds but can be part of the overall culture of a business.

    2. Do you know what it can look like?
    Bullying and harassment can look like a number actions such as; personal insults, rudeness, threatening behaviour, unwanted sexual advances and harassment, setting impossible deadlines, persistent unwarranted criticism. Even silence or inactions from an employee may indicate there is an underling issue. Pranks and banter in the workplace may seem like harmless fun but these acts may not be seen that way to others. Are you confident that you are protecting your employees from bullying and harassment?

    3. Do you know the effects?
    There are significant effects that can manifest from bullying in the workplace such as;
    – some may dread waking up every morning for work resulting in depression, anxiety or
    stress
    –victims of bullying experience a decline in low self-esteem and their engagement is reduced
    –high labour turnover can highlight possible areas to investigate
    –increased sickness absence could be a disruptive effect- look for patterns
    –employees may become less productive resulting in mistakes
    –collaborative working becomes fragmented leading to ineffective teams
    –there could be damage to public image making it difficult to recruit new staff or win new work
    All of these can have a costly effect on any business and should be managed in an appropriate way.

    4. Culture
    Develop a culture that promotes positive ways of dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace. Deal with situations promptly, seriously and discreetly. Employees will want to be confident that the business can manage bullying effectively. The leaders and management need to lead by example and set the behaviours expected from all employees in the business.

    5. Policy
    The culture should be represented in the policy. The policy should clearly outline the business commitment to tackling bullying and harassment.

    6. Communication
    Communicate your policy to your internal stakeholders as well as your external stakeholders. Promote your business as one that does not tolerate bullying and harassment of any nature within the Company. Perhaps hold bullying awareness days for employees.

    7. Training managers
    The policy should also refer to the role of the line manager. Managers have a key role and therefore should be trained to recognise the signs of bullying and harassment and know how to deal with it. Do they understand the Company’s grievance process? Managers should feel that they are supported by the company to tackle serious situations. Ensure managers are clear of their responsibilities and are aware of possible actions that could lead to harassment.

    8. Mediation
    Before going down any formal route consideration should be taken to whether mediation could be the way to resolve the situation. Employees should be encouraged to approach their line manager on an informal basis. Managers may wish to seek support from the Company’s more specialist advisors such as HR or external trained mediators.

    9. Formal procedure
    If the situation has not been resolved informally employees may wish to go down a more formal process. Do you have a grievance procedure in place? Is it fully up to date? Employers are responsible for preventing bullying and harassment – they’re liable for any harassment suffered by their employees. Ensure that your employees are aware of what to do in a situation where they feel bullied or harassed. The situation should start with as with all grievances with an investigation into the situation with consideration taken into account of the confidential and sensitive circumstances.

    10. Get advice!
    It is important to recognise that if the situation is very serious and a formal procedure has started, seek legal advice.

    Is there a culture of bullying in your workplace? If so, one of our HR Specialists will be happy to hear from you and advise on your Company’s situation. We also have trained mediators to support businesses that may be able to support any ongoing concern you have. Contact Peach on 0161 478 3800 or via email at hello@peachlaw.co.uk.

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