How to manage workplace culture, and bullying and harassment in the workplace

by FM Media
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The Federal Government review into workplace bullying will see increased scrutiny on the role of workplace culture in preventing and responding to bullying. Regular workplace culture audits highlight behavioural issues and can help ensure risks associated with bullying and harassment are managed effectively, according to People + Culture Strategies.

Specialist employment law firm, People + Culture Strategies is urging building managers, human resources professionals and employers to examine their workplace culture carefully by undertaking regular audits to highlight behavioural issues and ensure risks associated with bullying and harassment are managed effectively.
Joydeep Hor, managing principal of People + Culture Strategies, notes that while conducting workplace culture audits is not yet common practice, they are essential to raising red flags that may expose potential workplace issues. According to Hor, a sound yet robust workplace culture must be seen by employers as a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’.
“The Federal Government’s increased focus on workplace culture means the pressure is now on to elevate the importance of regular culture audits to ensure the values and virtues outlined in mission statements are a reality. In many cases, the values and mission statement have become merely paper policies, which are not being lived and breathed throughout the organisation,” Hor states.
“Workplace behaviour must be treated as a strategic priority and adequate resources must be devoted to the regular evaluation and addressing of issues that may arise such as bullying or harassment. In fact, workplace cultures are referred to with increasing frequency in cases of workplace bullying or harassment, particularly when reported incidents are not escalated or addressed appropriately,” he adds.
Hor refers to a recent decision of Fair Work Australia where an employee who swore at his manager was reinstated because of the culture of swearing in that organisation.
To effectively manage a workplace culture, employers first need to be attuned to signals of a problem or gap in the culture. Hor explains that an increase in staff turnover, grievances and absenteeism are key indicators that there may be an issue with the workplace culture.
“Developing and maintaining the right culture in a workplace is important for many reasons. Firstly, positive workplace culture can ensure the health and wellbeing of the organisation’s employees and secondly, it can reduce an employer’s risk profile in terms of its exposure to bullying, discrimination and harassment-type claims. Positive workplace culture is an essential ingredient for any successful organisation,” he imparts.

People + Culture Strategies’s advice concerning workplace culture audits is:

  • implement regular staff surveys, including 360 degree reviews to monitor for culture issues
  • conduct exit interviews with outgoing employees to identify any culture issues
  • complete a regular analysis and review of employee leave patterns, especially sick leave
  • regularly evaluate the number of staff grievances and types
  • managers and supervisors should be trained to make informal observations and identify issues
  • regular training in behaviour and culture should be a prominent part of human resource’s deliverables, and
  • allocate adequate resources to achieve compliance, such as in budgets.

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