Let’s chat about bullying, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Oh no, not another boring lecture about HR policies and legal jargon!” But hear me out because understanding the differences between these three behaviours is crucial for creating a positive and safe work environment for our teams.
Bullying is a repeated pattern of aggressive behaviour that is intended to hurt, intimidate, or harm someone who is perceived to be weaker or vulnerable. It can take many forms, including physical, verbal, or psychological abuse, and may occur in person or online.
In the workplace, I like to compare it to a blister. If you deal with it quickly, you can prevent a painful infection, it’s still a tender point, but you can recover without any real damage. But, if left to grow or pop without treatment, you wind up with a horrible infection that can take a lot of healing or even third-party medical attention. Sorry about any visuals that this metaphor may conjure up, but I’m a runner so blisters are kinda my thing.
Harassment is like that awkward uncle at the family BBQ who just won't stop with the inappropriate comments.
Harassment is unwanted or inappropriate behaviour directed at someone because of their identity. It might be disguised as a joke or even a compliment, but it still makes people feel uncomfortable and threatened.
And discrimination? Well, that’s like that one guy who always gets the best assignments or promotions, even though he’s not any better than the rest of the team. It’s an unfair treatment based on someone’s identity – whether it’s their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic.
These behaviours get rationalised and disregarded the most often. If you’ve heard references about a colleague or boss like, “They’re actually really nice; they’re just from a different generation” or “they’re like that with everyone.” Those are prime examples of how toxic behaviours become acceptable.
As leaders, we are responsible for keeping a watchful eye on our team and spotting any bullying, harassment, or discrimination that may be happening. We must create a safe space where our team members feel comfortable reporting negative behaviour.
If we see any bullying, harassment or discrimination, we must take action immediately. This could involve having a private conversation with the person involved, implementing disciplinary action or even involving HR if necessary.
By taking action against negative behaviour, we can help to create a positive work environment where everyone can thrive. So let’s do our part as leaders and make sure we’re actively working to create a safe and inclusive workplace for all.
To create a safe and positive work environment, we as leaders must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to spot and address bullying when it occurs.
Now, I know we’re all good people who want to do the right thing, but sometimes it can take time to figure out where to start.
Our comprehensive courses give you a deep understanding of bullying behaviours and their impact on individuals and teams. We’ll teach you how to identify bullying when it happens and give you the tools to respond appropriately. Our courses are designed for busy professionals, so you can complete them at your own pace and fit them into your busy schedule.
By taking our Adult Bullying Spot it and Adult Bullying Stop it courses, you’ll not only be equipping yourself with the skills to create a positive and safe work environment, but you’ll also be taking a step towards a more inclusive and welcoming workplace culture.