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How to reduce workplace bullying using proactive measures

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Bullying is no longer just a schoolyard problem, the issue having infiltrated workplaces across Australia.

Leadership development and research firm VitalSmarts recently carried out a survey that revealed a few alarming statistics. About 96 per cent of workers polled had witnessed workplace bullying and almost one in three said they worked with someone who was threatening or intimidating. Worse, four per cent of the respondents admitted to working with someone who physically intimidated or assaulted others. Overly controlling behaviour, demeaning or offensive behaviour, silent treatments and rumour spreading were other examples of workplace bullying revealed in the survey.

Workplace bullying can impact the business and its employees in various ways: In addition to the obvious psychological implications of bullying ranging from distress, depression and lack of morale among staff, the business has to deal with impact on efficiency, legal issues, absenteeism, reduced productivity, and the detrimental effect on teamwork.

Australian workplace health and safety legislation effectively holds employers responsible for ensuring the wellbeing of employees including physical and mental health. It is up to managers to take immediate steps to eliminate workplace bullying behaviours, prevent problems from escalating, and promote a friendly company culture.

Employees indulging in bullying must be made to face up to the consequences. Workers should also be encouraged to report any issues they may be having with their manager or colleagues, without feeling intimidated or afraid for their job.

One effective way to deal with the situation while a bullying incident is being investigated by the management is to change the work arrangements of the affected employee.

Some employees may prefer to change their working patterns to reduce the stress from bullying. Mitrefinch time and attendance solutions can help managers allocate a suitable work schedule for these employees that will allow them to continue working in a more agreeable environment while the issue is dealt with by the management.

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