Workplace bullying and harassment is a serious but often overlooked issue around the world.

Explicitly, approximately half of all workers are affected by workplace bullying or harassment at some point in their working lives.

Workplace bullying and harassment is repeated abuse of any kind at work. Significantly, abuse may be verbal, physical, or psychological, and can be perpetrated by any person or group of people.

Bullying and harassment can not only occur in any workplace, but also to any worker, regardless of their position.

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Workplace bullying and harassment may include:

  • Repeated teasing or hurtful comments or actions about a person or their work
  • Discrimination over sex, sexuality, gender, race, religion, age, education or economic background
  • Sexual harassment such as comments, requests, or unwelcome touching
  • Repeated unwanted attention such as invasive personal questions, social invitations, or gifts
  • Repeated exclusion, humiliation, undermining, or intimidation of a person
  • Setting unmanageable workloads, pointless tasks, and unreasonable or impossible deadlines
  • Unfairly passing a person over for promotion, or regularly threatening job loss
  • Physical harassment such as touching, pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing, or hitting a person
  • Attacking or threatening a person with equipment, objects, or weapons
  • Some kinds of workplace bullying and harassment, such as physical assault and stalking, are criminal offences. Therefore, these acts can be directly and immediately reported to police.

    About 50% of Australians will experience some form of bullying in their career. As a result, the estimated economic cost is over $6 billion annually in Australia. However, it is largely recognised that a significant number of incidents are not reported.

    Evidently, workers suffering psychological distress take 4X more sick days, at an average annual cost of over $6,300 per person. But aside from the obvious costs of absenteeism and compensation claims, bullying also adds to the growing cost of presenteeism.

    To clarify, presenteeism is when people go to work but aren’t productive due to psychological or physical illness. For instance, 50% of bullying and harassment victims claim to lose significant work time worrying about interactions with the perpetrator.

    As a matter of fact, workers that are suffering from psychological distress exhibit over 150% higher performance losses.

  • More than 10% of workers report unfair treatment because of gender
  • Nearly 40% of workers report being yelled at or sworn at
  • Almost 20% of workers report being uncomfortable because of sexual jokes
  • 39% of mental disorder claims cite bullying or harassment as the reason
  • 22% of workers report being threatened or physically assaulted by clients or patients
  • 15% of mental stress claims cite exposure to workplace violence as the reason
  • 50% of workers who report bullying or harassment consider leaving jobs to avoid recurrence
  • More than 30% of victims report being bullied at least once a week
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    There are, unfortunately, many examples of the consequences for allowing bullying and harassment to occur in the workplace.

    Recently, a Melbourne company and its director were convicted for bullying workers and fined over $116,000. Particularly, the director yelled and swore at workers, and used sexist and racist descriptors.

    Further, the director made inappropriate contact and suggestive sexual remarks, threatened to withhold pay, and encouraged managers to be aggressive.

    The bottom line is workplace bullies are far too harmful and expensive for organisations to keep around.

    Generally, people neither feel nor give their best when they’re worried about bullying or harassment. For starters, morale, productivity, and commitment are all affected.

    In addition, these environments also threaten to increase employee turnover and add the costs of replacing personnel. Furthermore, an organisation’s reputation may suffer if stakeholders believe its culture allows for bullying or harassment.

    However, the most significant thing is how that abuse impacts the health and well-being of individuals.

    Workplace bullying and harassment may lead to:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Headaches and muscle pain
  • Physical illness
  • Strained friendships and family relationships
  • Risk of self-harm and suicide
  • Bullying and harassment are far less likely to occur in zero-tolerance workplaces that champion positive and respectful behaviours.

    To that end, managers play one of the most important roles in developing positive work cultures. Not only by implementing strong, clear policies about what is expected, but also through proactive leadership and setting good examples.

    Increased absences, reduced productivity, or changes in overall morale may be signs that abusive behaviour may be occurring. But ideally, organisations will take a proactive approach to minimise risk and help prevent bullying and harassment before it occurs.

    Managers not only have the ability to create safe environments for workers, but also the responsibility.

    Firstly, interact with workers and colleagues on a regular basis will help managers stay apprised of any concerns. Additionally, offer training and development, and implement clear and accessible reporting and response procedures.

    Further, good communication, clear duties, and providing necessary resources will help reduce issues that may lead to abusive behaviour.

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    Unfortunately, instances of workplace bullying and harassment may still occur. They may also be reported by victims or witnesses, verbally or in writing.

    But it’s important when handling any claim or complaint to:

  • Act in a timely manner
  • Treat all claims and complaints seriously
  • Be clear about what to expect from the process, how long it will take, and the outcomes
  • Remain impartial and assess facts
  • Appoint an unbiased external investigator if necessary
  • Respect the confidentiality of all involved
  • Ensure a fair process and give everyone a chance to respond
  • Be supportive to everyone involved
  • Let everyone know what additional support is available and how to access it
  • Don’t victimise or allow anyone to be victimised for their involvement
  • Keep records of all claims and conversations
  • Take a firm stance against abusive behaviour and ensure that everyone understands that it will not be tolerated. Moreover, encourage workers to watch for signs and take proactive action against bullying and harassment in the workplace.

    ELearning is a powerful tool that organisations can utilise to prevent and address bullying and harassment.

    For starters, eLearning can be easily delivered on a large scale with great flexibility for different learners and schedules. This can be beneficial, for instance, when implementing policies, as it ensures that all workers are on the same page.

    ELearning is not only incredibly cost-effective, but also helps to make certain that all workers actually undergo training. Additionally, interactive elements, like quizzes, ensure that learners comprehend training, which reduces the risk of inappropriate behaviour in the future.

    Furthermore, the ability to prove training was provided mitigates the risk of potential legal costs if compliance issues arise.

    Chiefly, bullying and harassment eLearning courses can display clear visual examples of acceptable behaviour and appropriate conduct. As a result, there can be no confusion about what is expected of workers. Moreover, courses can provide relatable examples of potentially distressing scenarios that workers can identify with, and offer understandable solutions.

    ELearning can also be quickly and easily customised and tailored to suit the specific requirements of any organisation.

    Bullying and harassment can affect any workplace if a proactive approach is not taken to minimise the risks. Therefore, organisation’s greatly benefit from utilising a Learning Management System such as Business Training-TV to administer bullying and harassment training.

    Significantly, Business Training-TV can be used in any workplace, regardless of size or industry, to tackle behavioural compliance issues.

    We provide a great collection of engaging, high quality live-action video eLearning on bullying and harassment for managers and employees. To explain, our management courses focus on implementing policies and handling issues, whereas employee courses target expected behaviours and practices.

    Above all, our courses help build safe and respectful workplaces for all members, and help avoid compliance and legal risks. Implement our ready-to-use pre-built courses immediately, or alternatively, create unique bullying and harassment courses with our free Course Builder.

    Find out more about our video eLearning courses on Workplace Bullying and Harassment. And discover how you can utilise Business Training-TV in your organisation or training environment.

    Discover how Business Training-TV can be used to improve your business onboarding and training with a Free Trial.

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