Keep bullies at bay by making penalties clear

By Mark Doyle

An interesting read in the newspapers last week was the findings of a Victoria University survey of 7000 Public Service Association members.

The issue? Bullying in the workplace. Forty-three per cent of those surveyed said they felt they were bullied at work. So what can we do to make sure the workplace is free from this demon?

When bullying takes place in the workplace we only find out about it long after it has been going on. Normally it gets to the stage where the victim has had enough and raises the issue to the appropriate management channel.

This means that they have been working under these circumstances for a period of time, and this more than likely means that they have not been able to focus on their job.

Bullying goes on undetected and under the radar because organisations don't have clearly defined procedures for raising the issue and dealing with it. If there are no penalties for bullies, then they will carry on causing stress among colleagues and ultimately will adversely affect company performance.

In most instances, victims question themselves and nearly absorb the guilt of the situation because they don't know what to do. This is where the organisation needs to have a clearly defined and transparent procedure for all employees if they ever find themselves in the unfortunate position of being bullied.

TIPS TO SUPPRESS THE BULLY TACTICS:Include a full brief of company policy on bullying in all inductions and company handbooks.

Clearly state the resolution and investigation process in the company handbook/website.

Outline what is regarded as bullying in the company policy.

Offer a support service to all staff and reassure them that all related communication is 100 per cent confidential.

Communicate to all staff regularly on any topics that relate to bullying.

At the end of the day, no one wants to be the victim or to be falsely accused of the horrible act of bullying. HR staff need to be the experts on the matter and have everything in place to deal with bullying.

Along with the emotional stress on staff that bullying brings, it has a ripple effect that can affect the performance of your organisation: staff absenteeism, and staff distracted and unfocused at work. Put a stop to it now and kick out bullying.

Mark Doyle is client services manager for Shamrock Recruitment Group in Wellington, which caters to recruitment needs for both clients and candidates and specialises in commercial and executive recruitment and psychometric assessment services. See

- Hamilton News

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