Workplace bullying: a new toolkit helps workers identify and cope

| March 17, 2017

A new resource out of British Columbia provides employees with regulations on workplace bullying, a handy reference for workers everywhere on how to identify and cope with bullying among coworkers, bosses, and colleagues. Replete with fact sheets, checklists, a handbook, posters, and sample presentations, the bullying and harassment prevention toolkit was prepared by British Columbia’s occupational safety-health department, called WorkSafeBC, in advance of new workplace regulations being enforced beginning on November 1.

Earlier this year, WorkSafeBC adopted three new policies on bullying and harassment in the workplace. The policies’ goal is to define workers’ and supervisors’ responsibilities regarding harassment; for instance, employers in British Columbia must provide an anti-bullying policy in addition to adopting preventative measures against harassment. Employers are also required to equip workers with a means of reporting and complaining about office harassment.

The toolkit is a well-stocked resource for employees and employers beyond British Columbia who combat workplace bullying. In addition to posters used to promote a friendly atmosphere—such as a collection of four available in different sizes(one reads, “Bullying and harassment are not tolerated. We are committed to creating a safe and healthy workplace”), the toolkit also has in-depth training materials, from checklists to videos, targeted at small businesses, employers, and employees. The material is even available in other languages.

workplace bullying

The new toolkit is a great resource for both employees and supervisors. From Walter Rumsby.

But what does the term “workplace bullying” really mean?  According to the WorkSafeBC, workplace bullying and harassment includes “verbal aggression, personal attacks, and other intimidating or humiliating behaviors.” If it isn’t addressed and rooted out, “it can lead to lost productivity, anxiety and, occasionally, suicidal thoughts or actions.” Whether on the part of a supervisor, co-worker, client, colleague, or employer, workers of all stripes can recognize the following as workplace bullying:

  • Verbal aggression, insults, derogatory name-calling
  • Sabotaging work
  • Spreading gossip or rumors
  • Physical or verbal threats (including violence)
  • Making “aggressive or threatening gestures”
  • Vandalizing belongings
  • “Engaging in harmful or offensive initiative practices”
  • Personal attacks based on private life or personal traits

Conversely, the following is not considered bullying:

  • Expressing opinions
  •  Constructive criticism or legitimate complaints
  • A supervisor “exercising managerial authority,” such as through assigning tasks, work evaluations, layoffs, and other decisions.

Victims of workplace bullies and bystanders should refer to their company’s human resources policy on workplace harassment, and follow the guidelines set up by their office for addressing the complaint—if there are any in place. In certain cases, such as if a bully continually demeans a co-worker in front of others, the victim can address the bully one-on-one first. If the bully blames the victim and/or is unwilling to change his or her behavior, the victim has the responsibility of reporting the incident. Some of the handbook’s tips for bullying targets include:

  • Keep records of what happened during the incident, including “places, dates, times, people involved, witnesses, and what was said or done.” Save hard copies if any of the incidents took place online or via email.
  • Ask for help from your HR manager, union rep, or harassment contact. Do not make allegations to anyone not responsible for bullying and harassment complaints.
  • Say something: Bullies may not be aware of their own behavior. By addressing the issue, you may help stop the behavior.
  • Reporting: Bullying victims and bystanders alike are responsible for reporting harassment. Any criminal harassment (including stalking), physical threats and assaults should be reported directly to the police.

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Category: Office Hazards

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