to address harassment, bullying and discrimination
with Stephen Hammond
Tip #6 — HARASSMENT BY THE BULLY
On November 1, 2013 B.C. joined Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec requiring employers to have policies, procedures and education regarding bullying, not just human rights harassment like sexual harassment or racial harassment. This means about 82% of Canadians now live in jurisdictions that cover expanded forms of inappropriate workplace behaviours (often referred to as bullying, psychological harassment, general harassment or personal harassment).
Behaviours of this nature are dealt with through the provinces’ ministries of labour, such as health and safety branches or workers’ compensation. If I had a complaint of bullying, most of these jurisdictions will deal with my complaint as follows:
- Ask me to put it down in writing (or they can help)
- They’ll talk to my employer about my concern
- If my employer has the required policies and procedures on bullying & other forms of harassment, they’ll ask them if they are following it
- If they are following it, they’ll ask them to please deal with this issue of bullying
There’s a certain “hammer” that can be used against employers who don’t deal with bullying, but so far it’s not like the “hammer” found under human rights legislation. Regardless, a smart employer will fix any problems they discover at their workplace. And the formula is pretty simple when it comes to changing inappropriate workplace behaviours.
1) Educate employees to change their behaviour - this can be done in formal training with "bums in seats" but it can also be done through informal discussions where everyone is clear on the policies and expected behaviours.
2) Encourage employees to speak up - all the education in the world is only as good as people's ability to speak up and assert those various policies. Employees learn pretty quickly if the education they received had any merit to it. If they see that supervisors and managers can get away with bullying behaviour, it's unlikely they will speak up. If employees are supported when they speak up over legitimate concerns, they will speak up more often.
3) Ensure there are consequences for bullies - part of speaking up is knowing that if bad behaviour continues, there will be consequences. There may be no consequences needed if something is resolved amicably or a misunderstanding is cleared up. However, if bad behaviour continues. there must be consequences...hopefully the kind that leads the bully to stop his bullying ways. You always want a positive change in behaviour as the end result.