What is the Best Approach to Preventing Workplace Bullying?

Over 90 per cent of survey respondents, reported experiencing intermittent bullying in the past year, according to research led by Professor Jarrod Haar, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Mahuta.

Using a large representative sample of New Zealand employees across a range of ages, genders and geographical locations, Professor Haar aimed to break down the forms and severity of workplace bullying in the last 12 months.

The results showed bullying in the workplace is highly prevalent, with only 8.6 per cent of employees reporting they have never been bullied, while 24.2 per cent say that on average, they experience bullying monthly.

Workplace bullying is defined as repeated and unacceptable behaviour directed towards a worker/group of workers. Different forms of bullying include but are not limited to, verbal or physical abuse, humiliation, threats of violence and sabotaging or ignoring others (Employment NZ).

It is also important to note that workplace bullying and unacceptable behaviour:

  • isn’t limited to managers targeting staff or staff targeting managers
  • can also happen between co-workers, and between workers and other people at workplaces such as clients, customers or visitors
  • can be carried out by one or more persons
  • can be directed at a single person or a group
  • may occur outside normal working hours.

Employee health and wellbeing is contingent upon eliminating bullying from the workplace. It is crucial that employers understand the physical and psychological harm bullying causes. This not only affects an individual’s performance at work but also the health and performance of the organisation as a whole.

So what are some ways to tackle workplace bullying?

There are various pathways to address bullying and unacceptable behaviour, this includes:

  • Creating a more positive and inclusive work culture through effective leadership. A workplace that encourages, respects and supports one another will help minimise the likelihood of bullying.
  • Implementing effective policies that are communicated clearly to employees. Additionally, the topic of bullying should be openly discussed in the workplace.
  • Educating your workers and managers about bullying by offering training or workshops. This will ensure everyone is aware of their responsibilities in relation to bullying.
  • Ensuring your employees know how to formally report bullying and unreasonable behaviour. Moreover, ensure that you have the right resources and processes in place for them to do so.

For a deeper understanding of how to minimise the likelihood of workplace bullying, check out WorkSafe NZ’s guide to Preventing and Responding to Bullying at Work.

Moreover, talk to our team at Working Wise about how we can help you combat bullying and unacceptable behaviour in your workplace. We can work alongside you to develop policies as well as conduct engaging workshops to educate managers and workers, helping to build a more positive workplace culture.

Our online health, safety and wellbeing system GOSH Enterprise – which is launching very soon, provides workers with a tool to informally and formally report acts of bullying and unacceptable behaviour. The process is fully confidential, meaning workers can confidentially submit reports anytime, anywhere. Be the first to try out the new and upgraded GOSH Enterprise.

Contact our team here or give us a call on (04) 499 0710 for more information!

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