By Hugh Pelmore
Stress is a prevalent and costly issue in many work environments. Workplace stress can negatively impact a worker’s physical and mental health, which in turn interferes with their ability to maintain productivity, as well as service motivation. Stress can also lead to increased absenteeism, illness, turn over and can contribute to increased potential for safety related injuries.
There are a great number of factors that contribute to workplace stress including toxic work environments, challenging workplace relationships (client and co-worker), bullying, and harassment.
Harassment and Bullying Potential in the Workplace
It is safe to suggest that any organization, big or small, has the potential for a myriad of behaviours that can negatively impact individual employees and in some cases entire work teams:
- Rumours and gossip
- Harassment (Human rights and personal)
In order to mitigate potentially costly and damaging effects of workplace harassment and bullying, we recommend that all organizations take the following preventative steps.
Implement a Code of Conduct or Respectful Workplace Policy with clear expectations and consequences for employee conduct.
Develop a straightforward process for reporting personal harassment and explain this process to all staff.
Make it unquestionably clear that behavioural expectations are not optional. Consequences are part of the process.
Managers, supervisors and those responsible for enforcing the policy must be given the skills, training, and policies required so that they can deal with issues immediately as they arise.
Management, HR and Union must agree that those that refuse to play by the rules and fail to meet behavioural expectations (small % of team) may ultimately require discipline and possible dismissal.
Provide effective training that motivates employees to speak up and proactively/professionally deal with unwanted behaviours.* (the management of co-worker behaviours may differ from the management of client behaviours)
Remember, the majority of employees know how to behave and understand what a respectful workplace looks like. What they lack is the assertiveness and motivation to deal with the very few staff or supervisors that refuse to play by the rules. Training should reflect this fact and should be made mandatory.
Having a work team that deals pro-actively with potential conflicts and unwanted behaviours in a professional manner leads to a reduction in absenteeism, turnover and personal stress. Other benefits include increased morale, team work, enhanced safety, service motivation as well as reduced potential for wrongful dismissals, human rights complaints and co-worker violence.
A strong case for due diligence and regulatory compliance is about doing the right and smart thing, rather than playing a red tape game with Regulatory Agencies.
Hugh Pelmore is the President of ARETE safety and protection inc., a Canadian firm that specializes in training and consultation for workplace violence prevention and management of workplace conflict. Mr. Pelmore has facilitated more than 4500 workplace violence prevention workshops for virtually every industry sector. Hugh is recognized as one of Canada’s leading experts. Clients include the Provincial Government of BC, BC Hydro, the University of Western Ontario, TELUS, WorkSafeBC, WHSCC and the City of Vancouver.
Contact: www.arete.ca 604-732-1799
Source: ARETE safety and protection inc.