Transitioning from Workplace Bullying to a Psychological Safety Culture

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Transitioning from Workplace Bullying to a Psychological Safety Culture

Safe Work Australia’s Guidelines for the Prevention of Workplace Bullying provides a safety net through government intervention to prevent workplace bullying at a tipping point politically acceptable to organization lobby groups. Further considerations setting that level of response include the cost of providing government and judicial resources to administer mediation. Where this tipping point for intervention is set too high, the damage of workplace bullying can have devastating and lasting adverse effects on employees and organizations before it stops.

The key to workplace bullying prevention is by a transition to a Psychological Safety Climate (1) (PSC) through Positive Organisational Communication (2) (POC) and positive organizational design, which is supported by positive organizational policy. These three strategies can create a psychological safety culture under Positive Organisational Scholarship (3) (POS) over time through Positive Organisational Behaviour (4) (POB).

Positive work design removes the work environment bullying risks of role and task ambiguity together with the setting of realistic goals and targets to achieve organizational goals without risking the psychological safety of employees. Positive organisational communication is achieved through conflict management, emotional intelligence, assertiveness and resilience training, coaching, and mentoring for all employees to provide the interpersonal skills to deal with negative behavior immediately before it escalates to workplace bullying. Positive organizational policy formalises these two initiatives to provide clear guidance and support by management. The enforcement of sanctions for non-compliance with policies shows the extent of commitment by management toward an organizational psychological safety culture. These policies are in addition to and support corporate bullying policy designed for legislative compliance.

These strategies are consistent with the spirit of the work health and safety’s employer and employee duty of care. The transition toward a Psychological Safety Climate from a bullying tolerant culture will require reconciliation before moving to the desired state. It is through confidence, hope, and optimism that Positive Organisational Behaviour can facilitate this change. Positive Organisational Scholarship shows us the desired state to be achieved through excellence, thriving, flourishing, abundance, resilience, and growth to achieve and maintain a culture of psychological safety.

Once an organizational psychological safety culture is established it will require continued organisational commitment and management support to maintain. This will necessitate the induction of all new employees and appropriate reinforcement for all staff. Workplace bullying can be stopped using this process before it causes psychological harm and damage to organizations.

Kevin Gilmore-Burrell LLB MBA

© Empathyse ® Anti-bullying Consulting 2019 0243886331

(1) Dollard, Dormann, Tuckey & Escartin, 2017

(2) Lutgen-Stanvik, 2017

(3) Cameron, Dutton & Quinn, 2003

(4) Luthans, 2002