Bullying and harassment revelations have taken centre stage these past two years as the global #MeToo movement continues to empower victims and force organisations to think hard about their policies. Australia has not escaped this tidal wave of change. Major celebrities and politicians have been the biggest names brought to light by #MeToo, meanwhile nationwide investigation is underway – the Human Rights Commission at time of writing is undertaking a huge inquiry into sexual harassment, the first independent human rights institution to do this so far.
Australia is taking bullying and harassment seriously, and your organisation must follow suit. Which begs the question: How do you stop these behaviours? Let's discuss some techniques.
Having a clear company code of conduct is the first step to mitigating bullying and harassment in your organisation.
1. Make your policies clear
Having a clear company code of conduct is the first step to mitigating bullying and harassment in your organisation. A code of conduct will outline what your organisation deems acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, using specific examples to clarify grey areas.
When this policy is backed up with appropriate compliance training, including an anti-bullying and harassment course specifically, your staff will understand what is and isn't considered appropriate, and how to respond should these situations occur. This gives everyone clear boundaries, so they can enjoy their time at work without fear of harassment or reprimand.
2. Model the behaviour you expect from others
Staff look up to their managers to model how they should act. If you or your fellow leaders do not model the behaviour you expect, and more importantly, the behaviours you've outlined in your code of conduct, it may inadvertently promote the acceptance of bullying or harassment in your organisation.
First things first, you yourself must know your code of conduct and all of the techniques listed here today. When you are confident that your own behaviour is acceptable, you can also examine the leadership styles of others within your business to determine if they too are setting the right example. Good company culture starts at the top.
3. Reduce role uncertainties
The Australian Public Service Commission notes that role conflicts and uncertainties can lead to an increase in bullying or harassment. When staff aren't sure how their role is defined, it can lead to clashes with others as their jobs intersect – and not always with everyone on the same page. This can lead to increased stress and sour feelings, as some staff may feel undermined by their counterparts or their managers.
Take the time to make sure all of your employees understand their position and have the skills do to their job correctly.
If bullying is identified it must be identified and acted upon as early as possible.
4. Identify bullying early
The above techniques are designed to prevent bullying and harassment, but should they still occur they must be identified and acted upon as early as possible. This will help reduce the impact of the inappropriate behaviour on other staff members. But in addition, it also shows the wider team that you will not tolerate actions that go against company policy.
However, to ensure these actions are caught in a timely fashion, you will need a reporting policy in place.
5. Make reporting easy
Victims should not be left to deal with this by themselves. Therefore, you must have procedures in place that make reporting easy and victims feel supported. Here is an example of some common steps your reporting procedure could include:
- Ask staff to write down what happened, when and where. If there is smartphone footage of the incident, it should be included.
- Make it clear who staff should report to, especially if the perpetrator is a manager. You may wish to train an impartial ombudsman specifically to deal with bullying. Consider also allowing staff to assign themselves a personal advocate, such as a trusted peer, in case they do not feel comfortable or safe handling this alone.
- Ensure support is in place for the victim while investigations are ongoing. You may need to reassign teams to separate those involved. Specifically, you must support any victim to ensure the alleged bully does not have the opportunity to retaliate.
A training course on whistleblowing may help here to ensure your procedures are effective, supportive and legal.
Take the next step
Bullying and harassment are serious issues and your organisation must work hard to ensure it is #NotUs, instead of #MeToo.
The first step to mitigating these inappropriate behaviours is to get your code of conduct in place and start training staff. This is where a compliance training expert like Safetrac comes in. We are experienced in building interactive compliance courses designed to fully engage staff and maximise their knowledge retention, so you don't waste budget on ineffective training.
We can tailor-make a code of conduct course to your company policy, and supply off-the-shelf anti-bullying and harassment training that can be customised to suit the look, feel and unique issues of your business – ensuring all training scenarios are ones that resonate with your employees.
No matter the training you need, it starts with reaching out. Talk to our team today to request a demo.