Workplace Bullying Causes and Cures

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Workplace Bullying Causes and Cures

Workplace bullying injury is caused by bad behavior. The cure is to stop bad behavior before the injury occurs. We can do that through education, guidance policies, and laws. But you need the proper professionals to diagnose and effectively treat your workplace bullying to provide the complete cure.

If you talk to a psychology scholar, bullying harm occurs when unreasonable behavior posing a risk to health and safety is repeated persistently over time. If you talk to a legal scholar, legal systems stop unreasonable behavior posing a risk to health and safety, which is just repeated, not persistently over time. If you talk to a health and safety scholar, organizational risk management policies should stop unreasonable behavior, posing a risk to health and safety before it is repeated persistently over time. If you talk to a business scholar, ethical leadership can create a culture using emotional awareness and conflict management skills to promote reasonable behavior that does not pose a risk of harm at all. All these layers of protection are designed as a safety net where incidents which pose a risk to health and safety falling through the cracks, are caught before bullying injury takes place.

Unfortunately, in some organizations, the cure starts by basically complying with regulatory Work Health and Safety (WHS) and Anti-bullying requirements. As we can see above if you miss this net, you have little chance of stopping the injury. Where Bullying injury occurs, the provisions of WHS laws, workers compensation, and injury laws may prevent the bullying action from happening to someone else through higher premiums, fines and prison sentences for you, but it is too late for that victim and your organizational costs.

In most organisations, there are no risk management policies based WHS laws designed to stop bullying before it happens. In most organisations, performance management policies are not properly implemented, and there are no conflict management, resolution, and de-escalation practices in place. An anti-bullying policy is the most appropriate level of intervention to also stop workplace discrimination and adverse action claims which do not require repeated behavior before giving rise to a claim. Many organizations do not have employment contracts which authorize the termination of bullies resulting in unfair dismissal legal actions. Few organizations have proper policy training and career development policies. Having and following these policies and procedures is essential for a policy safety net to stop bullying, and discrimination behavior before it leads to legal action.

The key to the proper implementation of any risk management policy is the ethical leadership strategies involving training, coaching, and monitoring, as recommended under the Safe Work Australia Bullying Guidelines. Training needs to cover the application of the policy, emotional awareness, conflict management, performance management, conflict de-escalation, and grievance handling procedures. Professional assistance may also be required to effectively coach individuals involved in management and key positions in constructive leadership skills to thrive in an ethical culture or counsel victims of unreasonable behavior. Monitoring of policies and procedures is important as they are implemented and particularly during exit interviews with departing employees to assess the effectiveness of policies and procedure.

It is the combination of regulatory provisions, organizational policy, and ethical leadership implementation processes that create the whole cure to workplace bullying. When applied in isolation or not applied at all, there is a very high chance of workplace bullying and injury affecting individuals and organizations with potentially catastrophic effects ranging from organizational failure to individuals sustaining permanent disability and death.

Kevin Gilmore-Burrell LLB MBA

© Empathyse ® Anti-bullying Consulting 2019