November is a memorial month, to remember those who contributed their lives in the line of duty to fight for peace and freedom. This November also has special meanings for the workforce in the province, as WorkSafeBC approved OHS policies focused on preventing workplace bullying and harassment. The concept of “workplace hazard” keeps evolving, from the obvious safety hazards, to more subtle chemical/physical exposure. And now it is time to say “NO” to workplace bullying and harassment.
What Constitutes Workplace Bullying and Harassment?
Before discussing the definition of workplace bullying and harassment, I would like to share this workplace video clip with you. Does this account for a workplace bullying and harassment?
According to WorkSafeBC definition, Workplace Bullying and Harassment
- Include any inappropriate behaviour or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or should have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated.
- DO NOT include any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment.
So… if we look at the firing lady, the dismissal decision itself is not workplace bullying and harassment activity. But doing this with mouth full of Chinese food? Probably yes.
Other examples of bullying and harassment include:
- Vandalizing personal tools/belongings
- Spreading malicious rumours
- Targeted isolations
What Shall the Workers Do If He/She Is Bullied at Workplace?
As a worker, you should not engage in bullying and harassment activities. However, if you become the target, you should file a complaint of the incident, any witness, and the detailed description of word/activity. If you are diagnosed with any metal disorder as a result of workplace bullying/harassment, it is covered by WorkSafeBC compensation.
What Shall the Employer Do to Prevent Workplace Bullying and Harassment?
- Living in a non-ideal world, we all know that managers and supervisors undergo stress and pressure of increasing productivity, reducing cost and keeping the whole system work on a daily basis. That is why they impose management actions on the employee, such as changes in workloads, deadlines, transfers, and disciplinary actions. However, managers and supervisors should ensure performance problems are identified and addressed in a constructive, objective way that does not humiliate or intimidate.
- Employer should develop a written policy statement declaring that workplace bullying and harassment is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Employers must also make sure workers are made aware of the policy statement.
- Initiate investigation into filed complaints regarding workplace bullying and harassment.
What Are the Challenges Foreseen?
- Unlike safety issues or chemical exposure which are quantifiable, it is fairly difficult to draw a cut-off line to define bullying and harassment.
- We are proud of the cultural diversity of BC, which are reflected in the workplace. Sometimes, cross-cultural misunderstanding can lead to conflict, which can escalate to bullying and harassment.
- Workplace bullying and harassment might come from multiple sources, such as customers, client, sub-contractors. It requires teamwork between the management, HR, and OHS professional to develop the prevention program.
- Cyber-bullying (a potential path of bullying and harassment if you mistakenly add your supervisor & coworkers as Facebook/Twitter friends…)