According to WorksafeBC, “Bullying and Harassment includes any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated, but excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment.”
As of Nov. 1, 2013, employers have a legal responsibility to prevent or minimize bullying and harassment in the workplace and to ensure their are policies and procedures for workers to report incidents of bullying and harassment as well as policies and procedures for dealing with incidents and complaints. See http://www2.worksafebc.com/Topics/BullyingAndHarassment/Resources.asp?reportID=37260 for more detailed information.
There are several ways that an employer can minimize or prevent bullying and harassment. Here are a few:
1) Have clear policies and procedures about respectful workplace communication as well as how bullying and harassment will be dealt with;
2) Provide regular training for employees about respectful workplace communication, conflict resolution, and the employer’s policies and procedures;
3) Respond to reports of bullying and harassment in a fair, objective, consistent, and thorough manner. This includes:
a) gathering all relevant information, not just what is easy or convenient;
b) provide informal resolution opportunities such as mediation, and/or coaching;
c) ensure those following up on the reports do not have a conflict of interest with one or more of the people involved. For example, if the person gathering information is also a friend outside of work of one of the involved employees, this can be a real or perceived conflict of interest. If necessary, hire an independent professional e.g. (mediator, harassment investigator) to ensure objectivity and fairness;
d) if informal resolution options haven’t worked, the parties are not willing to participate, or the report has serious safety concerns, the criteria for an investigation may be met. Workplace mediation can also be helpful in building back effective workplace relationships after a harassment investigation is complete.
If you’d like to learn more about how to be an effective workplace harassment investigator, check out this course by Ounce of Prevention Solutions Inc. http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1109942844771-36/How+to+be+an+Effective+Workplace+Workshop+info+sheet.pdf
For a free consultation on conflict in your workplace, contact me at Leanne@jasona41.sg-host.com or 604.764.6433.